To provide a complete overview, Welch also includes an illustrated discography up to 2010's Clapton album. Hardcore Clapton fans would have also appreciated a catalog of his many songwriting collaborations and guest appearances on others' albums, although that may merit a separate book. Welch also spotlights key Clapton records, providing very brief critical analyses of the works. Those looking for in-depth criticism should look elsewhere, but casual fans would find this guide to essential Clapton albums useful.
Not surprisingly, many Clapton fans are also guitar enthusiasts. Welch does not neglect this audience; he includes close-up photographs of the guitarist's many instruments. While the pictures are indeed gorgeous, paying appropriate homage to the magnificent guitars, gear heads will find the descriptions lacking in detail. Those looking for extensive information such as listed in Andy Babiuk's Beatles Gear might be disappointed in the brief snippets about each guitar. But seeing Clapton's beloved black Fender Stratocaster "Blackie," its paint chipping and peeling from years of use, is an enjoyable experience (along with my personal favorite, the 1988 cherry red Eric Clapton Signature Fender Stratocaster).
The attractive black, blue, and gold hardcover featuring three key photos of Clapton make for a high-quality coffee table book. Clapton: The Ultimate Illustrated History is a loving tribute to a unique, highly influential artist, and should appeal to casual and longtime fans alike. While rock journalist Welch may not provide many critical insights, his essays and many photographs do just what the title says—provide an illustrated history of a rock legend.