Thirty-four years after its release, No Reason To Cry is one of those early Clapton solo albums that just slides by under the radar. It isn’t offensive in any way, but overall it’s more interesting than good. In hindsight, the album also suffers from the fact that it precedes one of the better releases of Clapton’s career, 1977’s
Slowhand, which would become an instant and enduring classic.
During the course of his long career, Clapton has always enjoyed working with other artists, having been a guest on innumerable albums and taken part in many side projects. Here he partners with several members of The Band plus Bob Dylan, and while the results aren’t brilliant, at least they keep your attention.
The two Band tracks push Clapton away from his British blues roots. “Beautiful Thing,” written by Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, is Americana music at its best and features some nice vocal work by Marcy Levy. “All Our Past Times” finds Clapton duetting with Danko and, though the track is enjoyable, a live performance would appear later on that is superior to this studio version.
Bob Dylan’s “Sign Language” was unreleased when this album was issued. While it may be an average Dylan composition, their vocals remain interesting.
Clapton is on much more solid ground when he is in his own. “Country Jail Blues” has some nice slide guitar which is straight out of the Delta and leaves you wanting more. “Double Trouble” is another return to his blues roots. “Hello Old Friend” may be the best track and is a fusion of rock and blues that he proved so successful at creating.
If you want to explore the music of Eric Clapton, No Reason To Cry is not the place to start. It remains one of the more eclectic efforts in his vast catalogue. It is a quick and quiet listen and then just disappears.
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