THE BARGAIN BUY: Eric Clapton; Journeyman (Reprise)

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Eric Clapton: Running on Faith
THE BARGAIN BUY: Eric Clapton; Journeyman (Reprise)

By the time he got to the end of the Eighties, the title of this album must have been greatly appealing to Eric Clapton: he was in his mid 40s, had been a solo artist for almost two decades and had been playing for a living for 25 years. He'd been putting out a studio record about every 20 months on average, and this was released on the back of his expansive Crossroads retrospective.

He was a journeyman -- albeit one with a stylist and a swanky suit. 

But on this album he didn't sound like he was coasting: it opens with what became a huge hit Pretending, but what was notable was the opening guitar part which echoed Cream's Strange Brew . . . and there are some hard-hitting tracks later on where he really pulled out the hard licks.

To some extent it is also an album of the studio-programmed Eighties, but the material was interesting and strong: Ray Charles' Hard Times and the Womack's penetrating Lead Me On among them.

The funk twist on Hound Dog doesn't exactly work but at leasy he and Robert Cray get to exchange licks; and on Run So Far with his old friend George Harrison he makes a better fist of the vocal than Harrison (who plays his distinctive wire-thin guitar) would.

The album found him in strong voice (the soulful and deliberately lowkey Running on Faith with a gospel choir which was the highpoint, Bad Love won him best male rock vocal) but there were also blues songs throughout (Before You Accuse Me, the Charles song, the fine co-write with Robert Cray on Old Love).

Breaking Point is however utterly and unforgivably leaden.

Although the album went to number two in Britain, it didn't do quite as well chartwise in the States (#16) but the singles lifted it and positive reviews made it Clapton's biggest seller since Slowhand in '77.

And it remains one of his favourite albums by all accounts.JB_HZ_CHEAP_long

Today -- with so many Clapton albums out there -- it is probably largely overlooked or forgotten, but it was a career high in many ways and worthy of rediscovery.

And that is cheap enough: Journeyman is $10 at JB Hi-Fi stores (here) and that makes it this week's Bargain Buy.

For dozens of Elsewhere Bargain Buy recommendations go here.


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JP - Sep 18, 2010

I got into Eric Clapton when I was about 16 or 17 - dad had a tape of Just One Night, and I listened to it every night when going to bed. First time I'd really encountered the Blues (the horrid George Thorogood notwithstanding). I got the Crossroads box set for my birthday.

Journeyman was the first album Clapton released after I became a fan, and I still absolutely love it. He's not come close since, except for From The Cradle. Pilgrim had good songs struggling to get heard above the horrid drum programming and synths. Reptile is bland, and Back Home I found in a bargain bin for $5 and have listened to once.

However I am looking forward to 'Clapton' in a few weeks. From the 4 tracks I've already heard, it has some real feeling behind the singing and playing.

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