Eric Clapton

Live in Hyde Park [Video/DVD]

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Not to be confused with the 1980s vintage concert video Eric Clapton & Friends, Live in Hyde Park is a first-rate showcase for the guitar legend's playing, offering him ample room to work out on acoustic as well as electric guitar and a fine display of his oft-overlooked vocal skills. Opening up with an acoustic rendition of "Layla," the performance starts off on a subtle note before plunging into the higher-wattage straits of "Badge" and other songs -- working alongside Clapton are Dave Bronze on bass, Andy Fairweather-Low on guitar, Chris Stainton on keyboards, Steve Gadd on drums, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica, Roddy Lorimer, Simon Clarke, and Tim Sanders on horns, plus a girl vocal duo and a gospel choir singing backup. Interestingly, in addition to the expected numbers associated directly with Clapton and his idols -- including "Hoochie Coochie Man," "I Shot the Sheriff," "Five Long Years," and "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" -- he also performs "White Room," a number written by and much more closely associated with (and, indeed, still in the repertory of) Jack Bruce. The latter is transformed into something much more lyrical and upbeat than the Cream original. The sound, which offers a selection of stereo, DTS, and 5.1 Surround, is impeccable, and the full-screen (1.33-to-1) image is even better, with lively, mobile camera work, and coupled with the fact that the 89-minute program captured Clapton on what looks like an especially "on" gig, this is a purchase that any fan, dedicated or casual, can make with confidence. The disc opens automatically on an easy-to-use menu with the "play" option in the default position.

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