A huge fan here. I like him most when he is being pushed by Steve Ferone (on drums).
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I am also a fan. I have seen him three times. Once in the 70's, again in the mid 80's and last year with Steve Winwood.
MrDecibel, yes I have the "Blues" CD. I enjoy it when he performs with old band mates and friends: Cream, BB King, Billy Preston, Steve Winwood, JJ Cale and Chris Stainton. It appears he remembers those musicians who help him along the way.
I'm his fan too, but technically can't consider him blues virtuoso sorry... I can tell he's very pleasant and have lots of spirit, but can't tell he's super-technical. I learned to play blues of his tabs and do not consider him difficult to repeat if you're good hard-working student:-).
I like his rock Cream times better than nowdays though...
Marakanetz, I understand what you are saying and agree with you. Much of my blues listening does not contain super technical playing for me to enjoy it. I started the thread because I have met so many people who do not know this side of Clapton. For the super technical players, this would be another thread altogether(maybe there is one already). Thanks for the response guys.
I refer everyone to the "Best" forum here on Audiogon to get other takes on Clapton. Marakanetz is saying he is not the best, and, that is his opinion. There are more virtuoso players, if this is what you listen for. I, however, listen to a lot of Clapton, playing anything and everything. This to me says all that's needed to be said as to how I feel about Clapton.
How about the John Mayall 'Blues Breakers' album......mid 60's?
Yup - a great album. Try also Peter Green and Stan Webb while we are discussing British versions of the Blues.
As Pee wee Ellis once said (and I am sure he heard it from someone else) music is more about what you DON'T play than what you do play!
Frankly you can take all those virtuosos and put them in a circus for all I care. For me I just love people who know how to play music - like Tom Petty, Maceo Parker and many others - it is not about technical ability but ALL about feel.
I have the deepest respect for Neil Peart as the "God of Drummers" but do I like to listen to him play - not really - although he is amazing!!! I much prefer drummers that tastefully enhance the song rather than beat it to death.
Saw Cream in 68 or 69. Was one of the most memorable concerts I have ever attended. The Cream reunion DVD was a huge disappointment however. Absolutely no passion in EC's playing at all on that recording. Surprisingly, it was Jack Bruce who impressed me on that DVD even more than Ginger Baker. I know it is an insensitive thing to say but I really thought the world would see Clapton return to blues playing and heartfelt songwrighting after his son tragically died but he did not. For me it was actually creepy how he transitioned that moment in his life. EC has always been able to re-invent himself to broader audiences but I no longer consider him as someone who has the blues....as his mechanical playing shows it.
Marakanetz - it is 4/4/2011, not 4/1/2011, right?
Clapton may not actually be God but he's not all that bad... Technique is also not a bad thing but in an expressive performance art form it's sure not the only thing. As far as personal preferences, Clapton & the blues can take you a long way - Clapton & Duane Allman was other-worldly.
I recently posted a review on A'gon of the Clapton/Los Lobos show I attended last month. I note the point Marakanetz was making - Clapton's technique is much easier to learn than many/most other guitar heros - but that does not diminish his very personal, very expressive take on the blues, IMHO.
Clapton is a musicians musician. I can give you specific examples of musical giants gushing over his playing- people like: McCartney, Harrison, Guy, King, Berry, Dylan, Robertson, Cash, Santana, Beck, Allman, Knopfler, Trucks, Cray, Haynes and the list goes on and on. Celebrity back slapping? I dont think so. Not from this crowd. Check out his Guitar festivals and youll see genuine respect and borderline worshipping from every musician he steps on stage with. From the old guys like JJ Cale to the young guns like Robert Randolph . Their reverence isnt because of his celebrity status, its because they know theyre on stage with a legend and a pro that can play anything.
I understand people who think his concerts are boring because he is not going to put on a show. If you you want virtuosity and facial contortions then go see Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani. Enjoy the leg kicks and the satisfaction that you wont be hearing something a guitar student can play.
Criticizing Clapton's technique is absurd, regardless whether you enjoy his playing. He intentionally developed a more tasteful and restrained approach after becoming disillusioned with the over-the-top rock soloing he did up through Cream. A more dedicated bluesman can not be found - he quit Cream, at the height of their popularity, to dedicate himself to the blues.
Criticizing Clapton's technique is not absurd, but I do think it's generally misguided. His taste and restraint (I agree on both counts) are impressive, his masterly tone - IMHO - even more so. However, he has always had severely limited fretting technique (although he bends beautifully, often counterintuitevely, and with superb precision). He can do many things with a guitar, but there are also some holes in his game. Back in his rocker's heyday and today. He just works around it to produce memorable music.
At least thank EC for rockin out the blues and sending it back to Vanilla Pop America so we could enjoy our own roots music.The songs Crossroads and Spoonfull had been around for years and the Vast majority of Americans had never heard of the blues.Thank you British musicians for introducing us to our music!....
EC is known for single line blues solos,not fretting/chording.He pays backup up musicians for that.Love his blues blues/rock work.EC can do it with one note where a virtuso may need many notes because of lack of soul.JD
Perhaps I should have said that criticizing Clapton's technique is beside the point. It is more than adequate, adn serves his purposes. Technique is only a means to an end, and EC has produced some outstanding music. Other electric guitarists may have more advanced technique, but so what? There even seems to be almost an inverse relationship between techinque and emotional content (although that idea can be carried too far.) The electric guitar players whose music I enjoy most (e.g., Clapton, SRV, Hendrix, Garcia), it's not because they had the most advanced technique (although their technique was admirable and sometimes amazing); it's what they did with what they had.
It's not surprising that so many musicians you cite applaud Clapton's playing - it's wonderful and expressive and deserving of all the praise it receives. I gush over him, too. He's one of my favorites and I've seen him perform live a dozen+ times. Unlike some posters here who supporter EC but wish for the old rock 'n' roll days, I actually find his recent acoustic blues performnces equally riveting.
My intention in posting here was never intended to diminish EC's playing. I was just supporting the observation made by Marakanetz that EC is limited technically (true) - and also agreeing with Marakanetz that these limitations don't seem to limit EC much musically. Those are not mutually exclusive statements.
I'll add that, with some practice, I can probably knock off most of EC's tabs....Adding that - even with a lifetime's practice - I'll never sound remotely as wonderful.
Actually, it's kind of nice to see folks defending EC in this thread, because he's so often bashed on A'gon. And that is -IMHO- just wrong.
Since when did blues guitar playing become about technical skill. As a music form blues is simple. The technical instrumental capabilities of playing nearly all classic blues tracks is well within the scope of any half way serious guitarist. But that's completely beside the point. Blues is about feeling. By that measure Eric Clapton has been a great blues musician. His technique is more than ample for the style his has chosen to play.
Albert King, Muddy Waters, Hubert Sumlin and Otis Rush didn't engage in guitar pyrotechnics either. You want to criticize them too?
Somehow I related your term 'blues virtuosity' to virtuosity of EC himself... I'm far not a 'measurement unit' of virtuosity, but there are tons of crafty musicians that I would have no idea how to exersize to pick up their techniques and so I believe EC.
I'm not trying to sound like EC, but often use similar approach to guitar which works for me...
Is there Msdecibela? LOL just kidding!
Here is some blashphemy. Clapton is a magificent musician and I love most of his stuff, but I never hear him splilling his guts on the stage. He plays from the head not the heart. To me, the real deal is a guy like Stevie Ray that dies on stage a little bit each time he performs. Ever seen Prince live - try his solo on "while my guitar gently weeps" on the Harrison Hall of Fame induction ceremony? Each one of his solos is a guitar orgasm - not a professionally executed piece of music like Clapton. Just my opinion.
I saw Princes "spectacle" at the RRHOF and while it was entertaining it was a "look how great I am" performance. I think youre talking about when he played with Tom Petty arent you? If you watch Tom Petty's reaction, I'll think you'll notice Petty was less than impressed with the whole crowd surfing with the guitar scene.
It's not relative to compare other guitarist to SRV (except maybe Hendrix) as his style and improvisation skills is more like the great Jazz Masters- Bird and Monk. Clapton expresses so much about SRV in an interview that no one, including him, BB King or anyone else has SRV's portal to other worldness improvisation.
But one artists strength isn't another personartists weakness. Claptons strength is his service to the song and not to his considerable guitar playing skills. Thats what makes him so accessible AND opens him up to critics. Service to the song is where the respect from his contemporaries comes from- which will last the test of time... not theatrical gimmicks.
And let's remember, the guy is 60 something... but if you want to hear him "pushing' himself, go to the Allman Brothers site "http://www.hittinthenote.com/" and get EC's sets he played with them last year at the Filmore. The Derick and The Dominoes covers with Susan Tedeshi are epic.
I think there's some truth to the "from the head" part of your comments (specifically over the last decade, or so - since the release of From The Cradle), but I really like that part of his game. I'm a guitar student these days, so that approach appeals to me.
EC's recent tour was like an academic exploration of the history of blues in American pop. He played funk, r&b, gospel flavored versions of blues standards. By the way, he was the only guitarist in the band and played a fair bit of rythm.
The middle set - solo, (virtually) acoustic fingerpicking was terrific. No jumping or grimacing for sure. Also, maybe more head than heart, but really, really great, nonetheless.
I would add that his electric style is way more laid back than SRV's, but I wouldn't call it less heartfelt. Clapton is more "slow burn", SRV more "meltdown". Both really heartfelt, in my book. At the end of the day, I usually prefer to listen to EC. Just my personal preference.
BTW, I prefer Lindsey Buckingham to either of the above (and, just about everyone else out there, too), so you know that my taste is not reflective of the mainstream guitar lovers who post on A'Gon!