Eric Clapton – Slowhand at 70, Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the guitarmaster’s Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour for his seventieth birthday. It’s an endless party with Clapton backed by a stellar cast that make this experience a fun and lively captured moment that is highly listenable. Lo and behold – before I read the liner notes – on keyboards is Chris Stainton from those wonderful old and aforementioned Mad Dogs & Englishmen – so my opinion of this epic Eric release is more than just a bit on-target. It is the reincarnation of that
Covering Cocker’s big rendition of the Billy Preston co-write “You Are So Beautiful” (though not co-written by Cocker) on track 6 and closing out the CD with “High Time We Went,” composed by Joe Cocker and Chris Stainton, we get renditions of those classics which weren’t on the 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishman escapade. Truly the extension, resurrection and remake of what Leon Russell and Cocker had unleashed on the world
The delicious Bonnie Bramlett/Eric Clapton nugget, “Let It Rain,” is seen here through another prism. Gritter, harder and like a revival, kinda like Delaney and Bonnie on tour with Eric Clapton and George Harrison, that classic ATCO album, the roots of this 70th birthday reflection back in time. To show the depth of Clapton’s extraordinary catalog, lesser gods in the rock spectrum may ask “How can a man be in the immortal trio Cream and highlight “Crossroads” but no “Sunshine of Your Love” (that’s on Jack Bruce’s new posthumous CD, to be reviewed soon,) “Tales of Brave Ulysses” or “White Room?”
Well, Clapton can, looking back with a little Blind Faith and a superb “Can’t Find My Way Home,” or “Wonderful Tonight,” “Tears in Heaven,” and “I Shot the Sheriff,” hit singles from the catalog after and beyond Cream to the “unplugged” “Layla” when it was reinvented to “Tell the Truth” and “Key to the Highway,” it is a dizzying array of Clapton re-exploring and creating something for the appreciation society to hold tight in the collection.
Some real fun is going through YouTube and seeing the variety of fan-taped cellphone videos that are proliferating. Someone can make an amazing online “boxed set” to complement this superb triple disc from Eagle Rock. The film has made its way to PBS so if you’re flipping the channels, be on the lookout. Great stuff and highly recommended.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.