4 CD, Box Set
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It's impossible to imagine rock guitar, or even rock music, without Clapton. Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes it's all Clapton, and it's all here, plus his top solo hits, live cuts and unissued finds: I Shot the Sheriff; Lay Down Sally; Layla; Cocaine; After Midnight; She's Waiting; Sunshine of Your Love; White Room; Crossroads (live); Strange Brew; For Your Love; Boom Boom; All Your Love 73 tracks!
Including both his band work (with the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Blues Breakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie, and Derek and the Dominos) and his long, varied solo career, this four-CD set does a spectacular job in gathering several decades' worth of Clapton's best. There are the requisite classics--"Layla," "Blues Power," "After Midnight," "Further On Up the Road," "Crossroads," and "I Shot the Sheriff," among many others--some of them in previously unreleased live or alternate studio recordings. Released in 1988, when only superstars were granted the box set, Crossroads became the blueprint for what such a retrospective should be. For its scope, this box skims the cream of Clapton's large output. --Daniel Durchholz
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The sound quality on this set is quite good. The masters aren't as compressed (if at all) compared to the reissues of Clapton's back catalog. As a result the CD doesn't sound quite as "loud" (much of that volume on the remasters is due to the dynamic range being squashed and the masters EQ'd taking much of the musical "punch" out of the music) as the Clapton remasters. Detail is very good on most of these tracks and although with some restoration on the Yardbirds tracks at the beginning because of the fragile nature of the masters they were pulled from. Overall, Bill Levenson and his team did a terrific job here.
This is a terrific set with a nice mix of live material, songs that Clapton performed on ("Comin' Home") and recorded as a solo artist. While his guitar didn't blaze quite as hard on the studio recordings for many ofhis solo recordings, this was a phase in Clapton's development where he was developing and focusing on his singing as much (if not more)than focusing on his guitar playing. That's not to say that he doesn't play well, it just sounds different than his hot, crazed playing for Cream and the tortured blues solos as a member of Derek and the Dominos.
The booklet has notes by Rolling Stone writer Anthony DeCurtis (interesting note--Clapton was so devasted by a critical Rolling Stone article about Cream that it helped convince him to break up the band. The article was completely out of line but managed to push Clapton into something that would have happened eventually given the volatile nature of the egos in Cream). Although this remaster is nearly 20 years old, it still sounds extremely good. Unlike many remasters, this was remastered pretty flat without all the compression and goosing that many remasters feature that make things louder but worsen the sound quality.