*****Back in the early seventies, Eric Clapton set a standard for himself, indeed for the rock world, with his work on Derek and the Dominoes' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). This blues rock classic is unsurpassed in its heartfelt power. But on subsequent releases such as 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974) and Slowhand (1977), it appeared that churning, burning Eric was gone forever. I'm not criticizing those later albums -- the artistry was still there, but the fire of the Layla album -- a fire partially attributable to the presence of Duane Allman -- was gone.
Then, for those of us who cherished that fire, came Eric's 1994 album of blues covers, From the Cradle. For the first time, the growl was back in his voice and the blazing intensity back in his guitar work . For a sample, check out this video of Eric & Co. performing Groaning the Blues, an Otis Rush classic covered on the album. The tracks on From the Cradle have all the power of this sample from a never completed documentary, "Nothin' but the Blues", by Martin Scorsese.
From the Cradle removes any doubt about Clapton's status as a true blues master.