Clapton's 'Old Sock' Is A Modestly Successful Effort
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 22:03
It is pretty safe to say that if you are a rock legend with a name that used to be scribed on subway walls of London comparing you to God, you have the right to make any kind of music you want whenever you want to.
With Eric Clapton’s new album Old Sock this unwritten rule becomes abundantly clear. If Clapton was trying to impress anyone or gain a new fan base then this would not be the album he created. No, Old Sock really just sounds like an aging rocker who has been on vacation in the Caribbean for a while and figured, why not make some music? Anyone buying this album for some heavy blues will be sorely disappointed, but that is not to say that some great little tracks cannot be found. In true neo-Clapton fashion there are cool covers and cameos all over the place—all one needs to do is sit back and listen for them.
The album kicks off with a reggae track. Although this is not Clapton’s first attempt at the genre (the song “I Shot the Sheriff” comes to mind) it is definitely an eyebrow raiser when the smooth island beat comes in rather than a harsh blues guitar wail. Clapton may not be Bob Marley but his older steely voice is surprisingly well suited for the laid back vibe that the music produces. The next song is representative of the album—not so much musically, but in the way it comes off. Track two is a quiet tune with nearly whispered vocals complimented by the powerful guitar licks expected from the great “Slow Hand” himself. The reason it is a good representation of the album is because, like Old Sock, it is not flashy, or particularly exciting. It is however, a pleasantly enjoyable listen that can bring a smile to any fan’s face.
Though the sound of this album is undoubtedly different than the classics that the fan base knows and loves, Clapton does throw everyone the occasional bluesy bone. “Gotta Get Over” is the first sign that the old legend has permanently hung up his hat and retired to the sunny beaches of reggae music. The song kicks off with a great heavy beat and angelic southern choir that is reminiscent of the glory days of Derek and the Dominoes. It is the old standard that Clapton is used to and it certainly shows with the first real guitar solo of the album, living up to his reputation. This is not the last we see of his old standard genre with songs like “Still Got the Blues” coming up a few tracks later.
Like many newer Clapton records this one is mostly covers, and with plenty of different musical styles to go around, he does not type cast himself to just one. Sadly, the inevitable country song does appear. The whole album it felt like something country was coming, and lo and behold “Born to Lose” appears. Any fans of slide guitar will appreciate the beautifully played steel string in the track, but other than that, it is pretty forgettable. The real shining cover of this album comes in the form of a reggae version of “Your One and Only Man.” If that name sounds familiar it is probably because Otis Redding performed that song in 1965, and Clapton decided to give it a tropical revival. Any soul fans out there will be sufficiently thrilled when this number appears.
Even though this album boasts a number of really strong duets with legends like Paul McCartney, those tended to be the weaker ones. In fact, McCartney’s appearance on this album is arguably the most forgettable of all. Let’s face it, it is Clapton, but there is nothing jaw-droppingly exciting about it. Really, the whole album sounds like something your parents play on a trip to the Caribbean—it is pleasant but does not really have too much staying power.