There has been a proliferation of unauthorized artist DVD’s recently, and many of them are quickly thrown together from archival clips with a few interviews included for good measure. They are released, probably sell some copies to the artist’s fan base, and then quickly disappear.
I am happy to report that Eric Clapton: The 60’s Review is a cut about these quickly released compilations as it presents a nice overview of Clapton’s early history as a member of The Roosters, The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith. It’s amazing to realize he was only in his mid-twenties at the time Blind Faith dissolved at the end of the sixties.
There are no complete performances, rather his story is told through clips, photos, and rare footage interspersed among a number of interviews.
It is the variety and quality of the interviews and the rarity of the photos that gives the DVD its appeal. I have seen a lot of photographs of Clapton down through the years, but the ones from his childhood, and his work with The Roosters, and Casey Jones & The Engineers are new to me and worth the price themselves.
It was nice to see and hear the comments by lifelong friend Ben Palmer, who was a member of The Roosters with Clapton and would go on to become Cream’s road manager. I would have liked to have heard Palmer talk about their trip to Greece as The Glands as it has always been the little discussed lost adventure of Clapton’s life.
Another interesting addition was Top Topham, who was The Yardbirds’ first guitarist. He was 15 at the time and was grounded by his parents who wanted him to become an artist. Clapton, who was only a few years older, took his place.
There are some Yardbird clips worth seeing as they present Clapton showing off with some of the fastest hands in guitar history, plus some video follows the early development of his sound. Chris Dreja’s comments about the era and the band are excellent.
Getting John Mayall to provide comments was a coup. He said he was attracted to Clapton because of his performance of “Got To Hurry” on the B side of the “For Your Love” single. All the interviewees speak about his progression as a guitarist during his tenure with Mayall.
The Cream section was interesting in places but much of the story was familiar. There was a clip of a young Clapton explaining how to play the wah-wah guitar. There was also a long clip of Jimi Hendrix playing “Voodoo Child” which rivaled Clapton’s work with Cream. Ben Palmer’s story of being hired as the band’s road manager was amusing as he thought he was being interviewed and ultimately hired as their driver.
The Blind Faith years are the least satisfying and are given short shrift and come to an end all too quickly.
Eric Clapton: The 60’s Review is an ultimately satisfying documentary of the early career of a guitar legend. Even his long time fans should be able to find some nuggets contained within its two hours.
Article first published as on Blogcritics.org