Eric Clapton is one the most influential artists of all time, and this album was intended to sum up his career. However, the 2007 best-of album “Complete Clapton” leaves you feeling empty and wanting more.
The album can be broken into three sections: the golden years, pop, and back to the blues. The golden years are the main and supreme part of the album. “Complete Clapton” features five popular songs by Cream (Clapton’s first band), including “White Room,” “Crossroads,” and “Badge,” but only three tracks from later groups Blind Faith and Derek & the Dominos. It also features several tracks from early in Clapton’s solo career. Then the album starts down a slippery slope toward Eric’s pop era.
The beginning of the pop section isn’t too gruesome. Songs like “Forever Man” and “Pretending” somewhat resemble rock songs. The remainder of this section can be summed up with an exasperated “Ugh!” Several singles like “Bad Love” and “Running on Faith (Unplugged)” make the listener want to break the second disc in half.
Then “Complete Clapton” pulls you out of this depression by going back to the blues.
Clapton’s return to the blues is represented with four tracks, which is not nearly enough. This part features two songs Clapton recorded with other artists: “Riding With the King” with B.B. King, and “Ride the River” featuring J.J. Cale. In short, this brief blues bit is much too small to fill the appetite of an avid listener.
All said and done, two discs are far too few to cover Eric Clapton’s career, and “Complete Clapton” gave a decent try but was doomed from the start. Cream’s three-album lifetime can’t possibly be summed up in five tracks. The producers should have just cut out all the pop, but then it wouldn’t be a history of Clapton. And that’s what a best-of album is: a story, a recollection of the artist and his musi
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