(As published in New Zealand's Brass ... )
Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton
Obviously, this isn't "the best of Eric Clapton"--it's the hits of Eric Clapton, 1985-1998. Those who've forgotten Clapton had hits for the first half of that period will, upon hearing them again, be reminded of why they forgot: For all their stadium-sized hooks, "Pretending," "Forever Man," and "It's in the Way That You Use It" testify to the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of translating blues power and Tulsa shuffle into high-tech bombast. On the plus side, Clapton’s hits from 1992 onward testify just as persuasively to his ability to make maturity-accommodating pop. Only the terminally adolescent won’t hear "My Father's Eyes" and "Tears in Heaven" as hummably humble attempts to come to grips with the Larger Issues. And even the two new songs, including the one with the Crystal Gayle title (!) written by Diane Warren (!!), sound like more than afterthoughts. What doesn't is the Bo Diddley cover and the unplugged "Layla." And if Warner Bros. had gone back to '83, they could've included "I've Got a Rock n' Roll Heart." Rating: Five reasons to cry out of ten.