Eric Clapton issued Backless twelve months after the release of his classic, Slowhand, and while it may not have had the consistent excellence of that album, it was still very good.
The cover photo says a lot about this release. It pictures a relaxed and laid back Clapton strumming his guitar. The music would likewise be a mostly mellow collection of various styles and traditions as the best songs run the gamut from rock to blues, even to country.
“Tulsa Time” is an old country tune that receives a rocking adaptation by Clapton and may be the album's best track. It was released as a single in the United States and deserved better than just cracking the top thirty. “Watch Out For Lucy” is another straight rock time and has a primitive bar sound as Clapton cranks up his old guitar for some of his classic playing.
“Promises” — which did become a U.S. top ten single — is a subtle song with subdued vocals and some understated slide guitar. It almost has a country flavor as the vocals explore relationships.
Clapton returns to the blues with the traditional “Early In The Morning.” He is always at home with a slow blues song and at eight minutes he has room for a couple of guitar solos and tempo changes. A contribution by Bob Dylan, “Walk Out In The Rain” is another bluesy, mid-tempo track, this one yielding an excellent Clapton vocal.
One surprising failure was the J.J. Cale penned “I’ll Make Love To You Anytime.” After the brilliance of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” this one is just a little too laid back.
Backless is overall just a step below Clapton’s best work. It has stood the test of time well and remains a good listen three-plus decades after its release.