Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Eric Clapton - Journeyman (1989)


Released November 1989

After spending most of the eighties courting the AOR market, albeit successfully, Eric Clapton tried, with this album, to launch himself as a credible, hard-hitting mainstream rocker. It was not a bad effort either, despite the eighties synthesisers still floating around in the background. A lot of the blues had gone, however. It is far more "AOR rock" than "blues rock" and Clapton gained a new audience of late thirties/forty somethings who regularly sold out his Royal Albert Hall concerts.


1. Pretending
2. Anything For Your Love
3. Bad Love
4. Running On Faith
5. Hard Times
6. Hound Dog
7. No Alibis
8. Run So Far
9. Old Love
10. Breaking Point
11. Lead Me On
12. Before You Accuse Me

"Pretending" is a muscular, guitar and organ-driven opener, full of backing vocals and a strong vocal from Clapton himself. His vocals are more attacking and forceful than they have been in the past.  "Anything For Your Love" is a melodic, standard piece of rock of its time. "Bad Love" is probably the most well-known track on the album. It has a synth beginning worthy of eighties-era Fleetwood Mac, but then Clapton's guitar kicks in but then it is back to that easy, driving feeling. Just before the chorus it has shades of "Layla". Clapton contributes a searing solo in the middle too. "Running On Faith" is a sort of "Wonderful Tonight" remake, that ends with lots of gospel backing vocals.

"Hard Times" is one of the album's concessions to the blues. It is a laid-back, sleepy blues with some sumptuous saxophone in the middle. Elvis's "Hound Dog" is covered convincingly, with a committed, rasping Clapton vocal. "No Alibis", it has to be said, is a classic slice of late eighties stadium-style, big production rock. It is the most representative of its time, but I still like it. "Run So Far" is a Paul McCartney-ish tuneful number, all very harmless, though.

"Old Love" is a slick piece of adult rock. Clapton's voice is particularly soulful on here. "Breaking Point" is in the same vein, but more pulsating and solid. "Lead Me On" is a tender love song, with female backing vocals to the fore and Clapton giving us his "Wonderful Tonight" voice once more. "Before You Accuse Me" is a fine, rocking blues cover to finish on. The only real piece of rousing blues rock on the album.

This was a better album than much of his eighties offerings, but I still prefer his bluesier material.


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