Eric Clapton

Rock Report: Deserted Cities of the Heart

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Music journalist Geoffrey Giuliano has marketed a number of his interviews with rock stars through the KRB label. This one must be considered deceptive in the sense that the use of Eric Clapton's name obviously implies that Clapton himself appears on the disc, which he does not. Giuliano interviews Jack Bruce for 16 minutes, Ginger Baker's ex-wife Liz Baker for a minute and a half, and Baker himself for 36 minutes, all discussing Cream. The 1960s group, consisting of Clapton, Bruce, and Baker, enjoyed great success but suffered from internal dissension that caused it to split up after only two and a half years. That dissension is much discussed by Bruce and Baker, who disagree and contradict each other at points in their separate interviews. The differences in their personalities are apparent in the conversations. Bruce is soft-spoken and reticent, speaking in a calm voice with an easily understandable Scottish/British accent. But his calm comments can be quite critical. Of Clapton, he says, "I think his best days have gone," and he claims that Cream broke up because "Eric always wanted to be a star," and felt ready to be after he played on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Baker, speaking in a heavy lower-class British accent, is as outgoing and verbose as Bruce is circumspect. Obviously a natural raconteur, he tells colorful stories about the band that contain minor factual errors. Giuliano does not elicit from him a chronological account of Cream's history, but rather several isolated anecdotes referring to such people as Linda McCartney and Jimi Hendrix, some of which are fairly ribald. The sound quality is occasionally iffy, as these clearly are interview tapes made in restaurants or bars, with glasses clinking and background conversation. Giuliano is occasionally aggressive as an interviewer, but mostly sits back and lets his subject talk. The result is a minor addition to the Cream library for fans who want to hear from the principals. But anyone buying this disc expecting to hear from Eric Clapton rather than just about him will feel ripped off.

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