Review Summary: A little bit of everything. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. A great introduction to Clapton for any newcomers.
aving never heard of Eric Clapton, Cream, or the Domino Bros, I picked up this album at age ten. Well, I wouldn’t exactly say I picked it up; I mean I was ten. It went a little bit like this: My mom was tired of her old CDs, she didn’t approve of me listening to Blink-182 with all of my friends, and she had The Cream of Clapton laying around. Oddly enough, it somehow wound up in my room. Although I was angered at first that my precious Blink CDs were gone, I was somewhat interested in this new album. The cover was pretty plain, just some old dude and a guitar. And the guitar didn’t even look that special. However, when I popped the disc into my stereo, I was surprised, to say the least. What a montage of music I had found! The simplistic Sunshine of Your Love instantly caught my attention, as did the eclectic Layla. I was drooling over the genius of the guitars, and I loved the first half of the song, but I always turned it off before I got to the boring piano part. Cocaine was another one of my instant classics. Catchy lyrics and fuzzy guitars, complete with another solo. I was loving these songs. I even loved White Room, after the boring intro of course. Then, after growing tired of these few fast tracks, I laid this album to rest, having thought I had beheld all that the Cream of Clapton had to offer.
Three years later, at age fifteen, I found this album buried under some old Zeppeling catalogues. Upon looking at it, I was instantly thrust into a state of nostalgia, remembering all those solos and hot, fuzzy guitars. I decided to give the album another spin, and this is when I realized I was missing the real Cream of Clapton. Whilst I was air-guitaring and hopping around bumping my head to the fast paced Laylas and Crossroads, the real beauty of the album was hidden between these tracks. The freshest segments of the Cream of Clapton were, of course, the blues. Now, I am not a blues man. I don't think I've ever seen The Blues Brothers, and I sure as hell don't know anything about the genre. But just from listening to Bell Bottom Blues, I felt like I knew the genre. Wonderful Tonight was beautiful, with corny-yet meaningful lyrics. Not to mention, my personal favorite track, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, is nestled nicely in the middle of the album. Let it Rain was nice, too , and the reggae-turned rock I Shot the Sheriff had hilariously ironic lyrics that kept me listening every time. The album does a great job of conveying what life was like in the mid-60's & 70's. Cocaine would satisfy the junkies, Wonderful Tonight and Let It Rain nicely provoked young couples, I Shot the Sheriff and Layla were pleasing to younger fans. All the while, Clapton is wowing us with his dirty blues guitars.
In short, The Cream of Clapton compiles a short collaboration of many highlights of Eric Clapton’s career into nineteen tracks. However, there are a few downsides to the release of another Clapton compilation. There is no ‘new’ material to be had here, per say. This collection only goes so far as Clapton's work in the early 80's. The Yardbirds, The Bluesbreakers, and most of his solo work is missing. Yet we still get a taste of his work with Derek & The Dominos, Cream, and Blind Faith. If you’re new to Clapton, this is great, and will probably instantly hook you. If you’ve been around the block a couple times, you probably shouldn’t pick this up. A few great Clapton tracks are missing, namely his earliest work with the Yardbirds. Also, his later work, like Tears in Heaven, is not to be found here. Even more to my dismay, there isn’t a sample of his acoustic work on here. His acoustic live albums are to die for, and this album doesn’t contain any. Still, for a single disc, The Cream of Clapton does a great job of chronicling this amazing guitarist’s hits from the late sixties to the early eighties.
The Cream of Clapton is a nice little taste of the full pastry which would make of Eric Clapton’s career. Wow, that was a terrible pun. Anyways, every song is worth giving a listen and is has strength in its own right. While the blues are the focal point of the album, the few rockin’ tracks are good as well. I always say, come for the solos, leave for the blues, or something like that. Anyways, if you’re a Claptonhead, or you live for Eric’s music, I would pass on this. However, for casual fans who don’t feel like searching for all the bands this man has taken part in, The Cream of Clapton does a nice job putting together that list for us. There is more and better Clapton to be heard, but this is a good album for easy listeners nevertheless.