Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Eric Clapton - Backless (1978)

If I don't be there by morning....


Released November 1978

After the incredibly successful Slowhand from 1977, Eric Clapton attempted to repeat the laid-back, slightly folky, slightly bluesy rock vibe on this album. Although it was more of the same, it hasn't had its predecessor's long-lasting appeal, and has become a somewhat forgotten piece of work. It is actually a lot bluesier and rockier than Slowhand. It is not a bad album, to be honest. Personally, I much prefer it to Slowhand, and indeed to 461 Ocean Boulevard, There's One In Every Crowd and No Reason To Cry.


1. Walk Out in The Rain
2. Watch Out For Lucy
3. I'll Make Love To You Anytime
4. Roll It
5. Tell Me That You Love Me
6. If I Don't Be There By Morning
7. Early In The Morning
8. Promises
9. Golden Ring
10. Tulsa Time                                      

After working with Bob Dylan on 1976's No Reason To Cry, Clapton joined up with him once more for a couple of tracks. The opener, Walk Out In The Rain is one of them, although this time it is not a duet, with Clapton handling the vocals. Watch Out For Lucy is a jaunty, upbeat piece of bluesy country rock. It would all go down very well these days, but one tends to forget that this was 1978, and punk was all around. Stuff like this would not have been well received by anyone other than Clapton's sixties fans who were now getting into dinosaur age. It is a pleasant enough song now, with a Band-like Americana feel to it. Back then, when I was listening to The Clash, The Jam and The Ramones, I would not have listened to this in a million years, despite having been into Clapton a few years earlier. In November 1978, when this came out , All Mod Cons and Give 'Em Enough Rope were released. The cover picture of a bearded Clapton playing guitar in a cosy room was hardly de rigeur for the times, either. Personally, I dd not need this sort of thing in 1978. I enjoy it far more now, listened to out of chronological context. In 1978 it was culturally irrelevant. It was, unsurprisingly, far more successful in the less cutting edge US than in the UK.

I'll Make Love To You Anytime is a seductive slice of swamp, laid-back blues with a feel of Dire Straits' yet to come material about it. It features some excellent, infectious guitar. Roll It has a loose  ambience to it, with some seriously impressive slide guitar with Marcy Levy on lead vocals again, although there are not many of them, just some improvisations. Tell Me That You Love Me is an appealing number similar to some of the Slowhand material. If I Don't Be There By Morning, the other Dylan song, is one of the rockiest things Clapton had done for a good while, full of chunky riffs and roadhouse rock piano.

Early In The Morning is a superb, eight minute piece of Clapton blues. Killer guitar and harmonica and questionable lyrics about girls coming of age. Great stuff. Promises was a minor hit single and is very much in the laid-back, acoustic Slowhand mode. Golden Ring ploughs a similar furrow. Tulsa Time is back to blues rock with a lively closer. As I said, it was an album that was out of time, but is not at all bad, taken in isolation.


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