Eric Clapton returned in February of 1983 with his second studio release of the eighties. Money and Cigarettes ranks somewhere in the middle of his vast catalogue as it is not as good as many of the releases which preceded it but is better than many that were to come.
To his credit he assembles a small but talented band to support him. Albert Lee is back but this time Ry Cooder also joins him as an additional guitarist. Donald “Duck” Dunn is the bassist and drummer Roger Hawkins rounds out this talented quartet.
I think that Clapton put it on cruise control for this album; it's just too easy and too laid back. The brilliant guitar licks are still present but they mostly come in very short bursts. All in all, It would prove to be one of the least commercial releases of his career.
The most memorable song is “I’ve Got A Rock ‘N’ Roll Heart” which was a big hit single in the United States. It is a rocking celebration of the music he loves.
There are several other worthwhile tracks. “The Shape I’m In” features some fine guitar interplay between Clapton and Lee. “Ain’t Going Down” is a nice return to his Derek and The Dominoes days. And he revs up the sound on the old Johnny Otis tune “Crazy Country Hop” for a fun filled performance.
The best track, however, may be the ballad “Pretty Girl," which includes one of the most unique guitar performances of his career.
Many times it is positive when someone refers to an artist producing a mature work but in this case he is a little too mature. I wish he could have cut loose a bit more. It is also mostly a rock album and I would have preferred some more blues.
In the final analysis Money and Cigarettes is pleasurable but not essential.