Eric Clapton’s self-titled solo debut remains interesting as it catches him at the crossroads of his career. With his Cream days behind him, his long solo career was just beginning.
The album was recorded from November 1969 through January 1970 when he was still an active member of Delaney & Bonnie’s touring band. Their classic On Tour With Eric Clapton was recorded December 7, 1969. And his classic Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs still lay less than a year into the future. For Eric Clapton, he basically fronts Delaney & Bonnie’s band. Think southern soul meets British blues.
The Bramlett’s co-wrote seven of the eleven tracks with Clapton and their influence was felt throughout. In some ways the songs were a difficult match for him as many forced him out of his comfort zone. Actually, two of my three favorite tracks are ones the Bramletts did not help create.
J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight” remains one of Clapton's best-known songs and is representative of a lot of what would follow later in his career. The bluesy vocal and the laid-back approach would serve him well for decades. “Blues Power,” which was co-authored with Leon Russell, is wonderfully constructed and a powerful track. “Let It Rain” is Eric Clapton at his guitar-playing best, his solos giving a clinic of how the instrument should be played.
“Easy Now” is a nice acoustic ballad and is probably the best of the rest. “Bottle Of Red Wine” is a rocker with an excellent, but all too short, guitar solo. The rest is not bad by any means but just different from the Clapton I have become used to over the years.
Eric Clapton remains an interesting if somewhat forgotten album in his long career and extensive catalogue. It provides a few highlights but mostly served the purpose of preparing him for the next stage of his musical journey.