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CD REVIEW

Eric Clapton: Unplugged (Expanded and Remastered)

by Jeff Tamarkin on December 31, 2013

After its release in 1992, Unplugged single-handedly revived Eric Clapton’s career. By that time Clapton’s music had become devoured by glossy overproduction and generically crafted tunes, offering little of the spark that had marked his initial rise from the Yardbirds through Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos—or even some of his earlier solo work. Unplugged—one of the first releases to utilize what became a massively popular concept in the ‘90s—took him back to the basics. While it did not, by nature, feature the fiery guitar solos of those formative years, Clapton seemed comfortable with the album's acoustic-centric simplicity, reworking familiar tunes and back catalog sleepers while also introducing substantial new ones. The album, recorded live, presented a more emotionally invested Clapton than had been heard in some time—he’d recently lost his young son—and it resonated with
the public, selling 10 million copies in the U.S. and winning an armload of Grammys. This expanded version includes a half-dozen outtakes and alternates, but it’s the original album—with its re-imagined “Layla,” heartbreaking “Tears in Heaven” and honest renderings of Robert Johnson’s “Walking Blues” and Jesse Fuller’s “San Francisco Bay Blues”—that makes this possibly the last must-own record that Eric Clapton has recorded.

Authors: Jeff Tamarkin
Artist: Eric Clapton
Album: Unplugged (Expanded and Remastered)
Label: Reprise

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