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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Daily Dose of Clapton

More details on the ‘60s guitar hero

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You don’t have to be fanatically devoted to Old Slowhand to appreciate Eric Clapton Day by Day: The Early Years 1963-1982 (Backbeat Books). But committed fans are the primary audience for this nicely turned out coffee table compendium of the known facts of his musical career, illustrated with album covers, concert posters, promo photos and live snapshots. The dogged research involved in assembling such a chronicle is worthy of note. In case you’re interested: On May 4, 1966, Clapton was playing with the Bluesbreakers at the Casino Club in England’s West Midlands. For the session that resulted in “Only You Know and I Know,” we get the complete roster of every musician in the studio—save the unidentified violinist. Maybe he’ll turn up in time for the revised edition?

 

Complementing the discographical and tour research are excerpts from reviews, quotes from Clapton’s colleagues and short chapters giving context and background. What emerges is what everyone already knows: Clapton was a problem talent, stardom didn’t cure his shyness and only swelled the addictive side of his personality. The Early Years’ early chapters are interesting, but the narrative loses steam as it approaches the end of the ‘70s—much like the career of Old Slowhand himself. The probable sequel, picking in ’83 and running through the ever-shifting present, will include some new highs, especially his MTV unplugged performance of “Layla.”

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