What's up with Eric Clapton in 2013? A glance at the past reveals the future. Clapton came to prominence in the mid-1960s British blues scene and quickly became a god. He took psychedelic music to new heights with Cream and Blind Faith, then managed to issue some of his best work, including a brief collaboration with Duane Allman as Derek and the Dominos (which gave us "Layla"), all while bogged down in a heroin stupor. Sticking to a twangier path, a series of laid-back country-tinged albums followed (including a cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff"). But by the 1980s, Clapton seemed, well, passé, that godly status slipping faster than a penguin on ice. Resurrected as the "Forever Man," Clapton's Reagan-era output was overproduced, tepid, and mostly forgettable. Credit MTV's Unplugged series in the early 1990s for Clapton's revival, spurred by a stripped-bare, heartfelt performance on the show. With a return to his blues roots, albums with blues icons JJ Cale and B.B. King, and a successful Cream reunion, EC's back in the game. Old Sock, out two days before the Phoenix tour kickoff, carries that momentum — with plenty of unexpected visitations to that scattered and fascinating past.
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