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Clapton, Eric: Pilgrim (Hybrid SACD)

Eric Clapton is one of the greatest guitarists to come out of the '60s. Of this there is no dispute. His body of work with Cream, The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominoes and as a solo artist is Hall Of Fame worthy.

Pilgrim was initially released in 1998 and was his first album of original material since 1989's The Journeyman although he did release Unplugged in 1992 and the blues covers' album From the Cradle in 1994. Personal tragedy struck Clapton in 1991 with the tragic death of his 4 year old son Connor. Seven years later the heartache in Clapton's music was palpable, especially in "My Father's Eyes" and the poignant "Circus", recalling the last day he had spent with his son before he died. Clapton's delicate acoustic fingerpicking and heartfelt vocals are incredibly moving. "My Father's Eyes" links Clapton's father, whom he had never met, to his son. It is another tearjerker but a good song nonetheless. It stands to reason Pilgrim is not a happy sounding album, in fact, it is the saddest album Clapton ever wrote and intentionally so.

The music on Pilgrim sounds quite different than anything Clapton had done previously mainly because it is here he experimented extensively with drum and keyboard programming, loops and sequencers, putting the emphasis on electronic soundscapes while still adhering to an R&B template. Producer Simon Climie's influence is certainly prevalent.

Because of the sad theme it should come as no surprise this is a very mellow album. The first time I heard Pilgrim I recalled being somewhat bored but upon further listens it began to speak to me more than it had initially. On the title track, Clapton's vocals are fragile yet filled with conviction and the repeating riff, subtle organ swells and slick lead guitar are positively addictive.

Other highlights include the mellow yet bluesy "Going Down Slow", the rocking blues of "Sick And Tired" and the funky "She's Gone", saturated with Clapton's quick bursts of guitar.

This disc is a limited number edition hybrid SACD released by Audio Fidelity. The sound quality, as to be expected, is excellent.

Despite what the naysayers said, Clapton still had plenty of fire in the tank and his guitar work was still pervasive and of exceptional quality.

The question that must be asked is Pilgrim worth purchasing? While it is by no means close to my favourite Clapton album, it is still an important piece, documenting at the time where he was at both personally and musically. If you already have Pilgrim in your collection I say pass. If not, owning this version wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

Track Listing:
1. My Father's Eyes
2. River Of Tears
3. Pilgrim
4. Broken Hearted
5. One Chance
6. Circus
7. Going Down Slow
8. Fall Like Rain
9. Born In Time
10. Sick And Tired
11. Needs His Woman
12. She's Gone
13. You Were There
14. Inside Of Me

Added: February 11th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 1835
Language: english

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