After the less than stellar commercial performance of his 1983 release, Money and Cigarettes, Eric Clapton was under some pressure to produce an album that would appeal to his vast fan base. His 1985 release, Behind The Sun, was a good if not great album. It was an album of the eighties featuring synthesizers and programmed drums. What was also present, however, was some of his best overall guitar playing in years.
He departed from his tight little supporting bands of his past few albums as over twenty musicians appear in the credits. Guitarists Lindsey Buckingham and Steve Lukather, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, drummer Jeff Porcaro, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, and vocalist Marcy Levy are all on board in support of Clapton. The biggest addition was Phil Collins who not only provided keyboards, percussion, and background vocals but also was the co-producer. It was his influence that, for better or worse, brought Clapton into the MTV age.
Clapton was searching for a hit and found “Forever Man” by Texas songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams who would provide two other songs as well. Clapton’s guitar solo rank with the best of his career and the vocal is also strong. The music video would be memorable and “Forever Man’ would top Billboard Magazine’s Mainstream Rock Chart and prove that Clapton could still produce popular music. Veteran producer Ted Templeman would produce all of Williams’s contributions and they would provide a good counterpoint to the slick work of Collins.
“She’s Waiting,” which was the albums first track, is the perfect combination of Clapton and Collins. The drums and keyboards are from the eighties but Clapton’s guitar playing is classic.
The album has some highs and lows. “Same Old Blues” and “Never Make You Cry,” are just too long at eight and six minutes respectively but are saved by some more tasty guitar solos. The title track was written during his separation from his wife Patti and features just guitar, keyboard, and an emotional vocal.
Behind The Sun remains a transition album for Clapton. As such it is a hit and miss affair and is for fans who want to delve deeper into his catalogue than the usual norm. In the final analysis it ranks somewhere between okay and good.