Eric Clapton

One More Car, One More Rider

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The cover of Eric Clapton's 2002 live album One More Car, One More Rider -- no less than the sixth live album in his solo career -- suggests the problems in the record. It's designed to look a classic blues album sleeve or poster, but it's self-conscious and affected, the work of somebody that knows the form but not the substance of the blues. Certainly that accusation can't be reasonably leveled at Clapton who, after all, has proved throughout his career that he knows the substance of the blues, but ever since his canonization to the MOR mainstream with 1992's Unplugged, there's a sinking feeling that EC dabbles in the blues instead of lives there. Sure, he had a fierce testimonial to his favorite music with From the Cradle, but One More Car, One More Rider arrives nearly a decade later, and the difference is stunning. Though he goes through the motions of playing the blues -- a cutting version of the perennial "Key to the Highway," "Hoochie Coochie Man," "Goin' Down Slow," among others here -- the heart of this album is closer to the NPR instrumental jam of "Reptile" than blues. This is mannered, "classy" playing which sounds perfectly fine but is never interesting, particularly since the song selection favors either warhorses or recent hits. In short, it's a record for those that like the idea of Clapton more than his music.

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