One More Car, One More Rider
(Reprise CD/DVD)

ERIC CLAPTON: One More Car, One More Rider (Reprise CD/DVD) Anytime Eric Clapton releases a new album, it's an event. The last few studio efforts have been less than exciting for longtime fans of the legendary guitarist. Too much synthesizer and drum machine and not enough of EC's wailing guitar. Well, I hate to break it to you, but Clapton has reached the point in his career where he doesn't need to wail anymore. He's past the whole screaming guitar solo thing. He's played country, blues, ballads, you name it. Not to mention what he did with the 'unplugged' genre. On his latest effort, Clapton gives one of the strongest live performances he's released to date.

As was the case throughout the tour, the acoustic set gets things started. After a solo version of "Key to the Highway," the band joins Clapton onstage for a gorgeous version of the instrumental title track from his last album, "Reptile." Eric doesn't say a whole lot to the audience during the show, aside from the requisite "thank you." He does, however, introduce "Got You on My Mind," which features a quote from "Blue Monk" during Andy Fairweather-Low's guitar solo. Other than that, Clapton sticks to the music.

The first real highlight is the sublime "Bell Bottom Blues." Eric's voice sounds great, and the solos are outstanding. The first real surprise is the stunning "Change the World." The studio version of the song never did much for me, but it really comes alive when performed live. The first of four tracks from Pilgrim (and the first of two brief lulls in the show) is up next, "My Father's Eyes." Although Pilgrim was dissed by fans because of all the synthesizers and/or drum machines, the songs--stripped of their electronic accompaniment--are considerably better here. "River of Tears" is a perfect example, thanks to Clapton's stunning guitar work and Billy Preston's heartfelt keyboard solo.

Disc two contains most of the older hits--"Badge" (with a keyboard solo where the guitar solo should be), a slightly different version of "Cocaine," "Layla" (the electric version), a particularly inspired version of "Sunshine of Your Love" (thanks to Steve Gadd's drumming) and unfortunately "Wonderful Tonight." It never ceases to amaze me how many people think this is a love song. For the blues fans, you also get great versions of "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Have You Ever Loved a Woman."

One More Car is available in three different configurations: double CD, DVD, and a CD/DVD combo package. The DVD is a complete show from Los Angeles (and includes Billy Preston's "Will it Go Round in Circles", which does not appear on the CDs), where the CDs are a combination of shows from Los Angeles and Tokyo. The CDs each feature a live video in the enhanced portion of the disc--"River of Tears" on disc one, and "Badge" on disc two. The picture quality in the DVD is outstanding. Sound quality is excellent on both formats. The only place they skimped is on the liner notes. An 8-page booklet just isn't enough. Other than that, this is one of the best live albums (or DVDs) out there.

If you were lucky enough to see any of the shows on the tour, One More Car makes a great souvenir. If you weren't able to catch the tour, now you can see and hear what you missed.

© 2003 Steve Marshall
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