Eric Clapton: Old Sock


Eric Clapton has spent the better part of his solo career populating his albums with the material written by composers he admires. It would be safe thinking Clapton would devote the debut recording on his own label with a clutch of self-penned tunes, however on Old Sock, Slowhand continues in the vein of standards he mined on its predecessor Clapton.

In decidedly middle-of-the-road charts, “The Folks Who Live on the Hill” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, plus George Gershwin’s “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” derive from a generation parallel to, but decidedly different than, the blues figures that first inspired Clapton, such as Freddy King. Such numbers are also a far cry from the refreshingly simple reggae-sourced material that provides the other major stylistic theme to this 21st album of EC’s. Taj Mahal’s “Further On Up the Road,” as well as original Wailer Peter Tosh’s “Till Your Well Runs Dry” reaffirms the relaxed tone as represented in sunny relaxed visage of the cover portrait. The archetypal guitar hero is not creating truly compelling listening here, polished and professional though it may be.

But then again Clapton’s main instrument in the studio is now his voice and it’s undeniable he’s grown as a singer when listening to his collaboration with Paul McCartney on “All of Me.” “Born to Lose” reaffirms that evolution too, but that track might fare better if there was some sense of (at least partly) tongue in cheek, but the dobro-decorated amble of this recording carries no deep level of feeling. The chorale-drenched waltz of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene” doesn’t sound very passionate either and while the guitar playing is earmarked with Clapton’s customary simplicity, it’s too restrained for its own good.

Multiple producing credits on Old Sock suggest Eric Clapton would really benefit, rather than endanger, his commercial appeal, by collaborating a single outside producer, not to mention a streamlined unit of accompanying musicians. Such a project, compositions of his own or otherwise, may not necessarily be conceived to appeal to the rock/blues listeners who will no doubt dote on “Gotta Get Over” and late British guitarist Gary Moore’s “Still Got The Blues” (where Clapton’s guitar takes prominence but ultimately defers to an orchestra), but such a focused approach might at least clarify the core audience of the man once referred to as “God.”

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