Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of.
Week of 08/22/2014
WHO: Eric Clapton
WHAT: Icon: Eric Clapton
As is bound to happen from time to time, this week's Back of The Billboard's is captured by a performer who doesn't require any additional publicity. Eric Clapton is hailed by some as the greatest guitarist of all time, so it's no surprise that new "greatest hits" albums are frequently released in his name.
That's an inherent problem with sets such as Icon: Eric Clapton: Casual listeners are either trying out Slowhand for the first time, or they're desperate to avoid getting lost in the guitarist's 50 year career. Assuming that the former is true, the need for overly-generalized greatest hits collections is understandable. The issue becomes when those sets are too specific. It seems illogical to suggest that Clapton solo is "overly specific," but Icon proves it to be just so.
This album is boiled down to 12 tracks, far too small to hold Clapton's gist. There are classics such as "Cocaine" and "Wonderful Tonight," but no Slowhand sampler is complete without acknowledging his work within bands: Cream, Blind Faith and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers are all essential (we acknowledge that at least Derek and The Dominoes are represented here via "Lalya). It's worth your money and listening time to spend a few extra bucks on two-disc Icon 2, which includes his work with other bands, not to mention live cuts of tracks such as Further On Up The Road," which reveal another key element of any bluesman's discography: his live show.
If one disc is truly all you can handle, go for Cream of Clapton instead.