January 30, 2014
Grabbing the latest issue of Guitar World out of my mailbox this afternoon, the first thing I noticed was the cover photo of Eric Clapton, along with the headline The 50 Greatest Eric Clapton Songs Of All Time. Those who really know me know that I am a Clapton freak. Stevie Ray looks down on me from the 20×30 poster hanging above my computer table of a photo I shot of him at the Ohio State Fair around 1986, maybe 1987, and was devastated when he died (and still am), and I love a lot of other unbelievable pickers, however, I think based solely on recorded output, no one compares to EC. I have seen Clapton many times through the years, the first time being at St. John’s Arena, on the campus of Ohio State University on July 4, 1974.
I quickly scanned the magazine’s list of Clapton’s greatest songs, and mostly agree with their selection, however there are a few that I would not have included, songs such as Sleepy Time Time by Cream, ranked number ten (they even include an alternate version of the song at number twenty as well, I Shot The Sheriff at number twenty-two or Lay Down Sally at number forty-two. It was when flipping the page searching for the last few entries, that I saw a photo of Duane Allman with the tile Dominos Effect, along with the subtitle When Duane Allman sat in with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos’ Layla album sessions in 1970, it was the gig of a lifetime…and it nearly sidelined the Allman Brothers Band.
I have had a subscription to both Guitar World and Guitar Player ever since I started my quest to become a guitar player seventeen years ago, and for the most part, my generalization of these two magazines is that Guitar Player seems more geared towards an older crowd while Guitar World seems aimed at a more heavier rock, much younger than myself type of reader. Seeing two back-to-back articles about artists and an album that I really like looked very promising. I have long thought that Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs is the greatest rock album of all time, although I must admit to rating Layla along with Stairway To Heaven and Free Bird as songs that radio played a million times too often. The Layla album does contain lovely tunes such as Bell Bottom Blues, Keep On Growing, Anyday, Key To The Highway, Tell The Truth, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Have You Ever Loved A Woman and Little Wing. This album is a rock and/or blues masterpiece.
Flipping past the Layla article, I was astonished to see a photograph of Michael Bloomfield with the headline Blues Power House, with the subtitle He was one of the greatest electric blues guitarists of his time, but Michael Bloomfield is nearly forgotten today. His friend and collaborator Al Kooper hopes to change that with the new box-set retrospective From His Head To His Heart To His Hands. It is a misnomer to call Bloomfield one of the greatest blues guitarists of his time, Michael Bloomfield is one of the greatest blues guitarists of ALL time, most certainly, the greatest white blues guitarist ever!
Back-to-back-to-back articles about two of my favorite guitarists, along with an article about the recording of arguably the greatest album of all time, it does not get any better than that on a very cold, winter day!
Steven H. Spring