The Cream Of Clapton - Video
|I Feel Free|
|Sunshine Of Your Love|
|Worried Life Blues|
|Knockin' On Heaven's Door|
|I Shot The Sheriff|
|Tearing Us Apart|
|Behind The Mask|
Rating : 10/10
18 October 2000
This superb video collection undoubtedly captures with distinction quintessential Clapton. The Cream of Clapton is a title shared by this PolyGram footage, (1989) and the (1994) Polydor CD of compilation material, which was originally deleted and replaced with a more economical volume. Some connoisseurs prefer the comprehensive Crossroads box set suggesting that it offers a 'truer picture' of Eric Clapton's career, covering a much greater period than the RSO years.
Without doubt both Cream of Clapton compilations are nevertheless marvelously succinct with this video offering a wider selection, meeting the viewer with tantalizingly nostalgic imagery of the ascent of 'God', from The Yardbirds and Cream to his Live Aid performance of Derek and The Dominos 'Layla' and the solo years of the 1980s. For me this footage formed the rock bed of my musical education and as a child familiarized me with the face and inspirational sounds of a timeless rock idol.
Opening shots of 'Louise' from 'Five Live Yardbirds' show an almost unrecognizable Eric, an angelic fresh faced young man enthused by this John Lee Hooker number. Having graduated from the less commercial Mayall college of 'Blues Breakers' Eric emerges defiant and formidable back into the frame for his next incarnation, which features some of Cream's most definitive material. The irresistibly eccentric trio of musicians convey a tension and genius complemented by a down to earth yet psychedelic presence which sends shards of electricity through the camera lens.
The piece de resistance of the entire video is inched snugly into a central position, marking a transition point following the dissolution of Cream. The awesome clip of Eric performing 'Layla' at Live Aid served to remind the public of his genius and succeeded in captured a new audience. 'Layla' conceived through a fairy tale book of unrequited love given by a friend to Pattie Boyd and Eric, became complete when coupled with a speeded up blues riff from Albert King's 'Born Under A Bad Sign'. Eric having birthed a masterpiece, performed as if his passion, torment and distress could be answered only by a solace found in playing the legendary 'Brownie'. These clips form a controlled demonstration of 'Layla', where he truly defines the concept of artistry in contemporary music. Such powerful melodrama and staging suggests not only an integration of rock and blues, but equally signals to the listener Clapton's love of culture and opera.
The later sections of this epic video featuring JJ Cale's 'Cocaine', 'Wonderful Tonight' and 'Tearing Us Apart', increasingly resemble a 'Who's Who' of rock aristocracy. Eric shares duets with Mark Knopfler, Mark King and the fantastic Tina Turner. Also memorable are some remarkable performances by his evolving band such as friend and producer Phil Collins and Pink Floyd's Tim Renwick. The final piece acts to bring the compilation full circle by ending with 'Holy Mother'. The solo executed in this piece is an example as explained candidly by Eric to Melvyn Bragg on the South Bank Show (1987), of his fundamental driving force or philosophy in live performance. We are reminded that every gig could be his last, so his simply 'gives it everything.'
In a recent interview on the Clapton Chronicles to The Times, (quoted in Where's Eric, Reviews, Issue 26) Eric himself states that this CD and video collection are not supposed to be a 'serious study' of his legacy. When trying to capture the repertoire of any such great artist this is an important point to consider. Perhaps it is the components of enigma, artistry and entertainment which are paramount, and The Cream of Eric Clapton certainly oozes all these qualities!