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With Eric Clapton having recently released his new studio album marking 50 years in the Music Industry I thought I would review one of his lesser known albums before reviewing the new album. His latest release is his 20th release. Going back to 1986 though for this his 10th studio release. Over the years Eric Clapton has worked extensively with a number of successful lineups and August would be the second release of The Clapton, Collins, East & Phillinganes lineup which would feature in the next few releases in some form or another.
August is the tenth studio album from Eric Clapton. The 1980s were a trying time for Clapton, Battling through alcohol abuse he released several albums and got back onto track with the help of a backing band that would be replicated many times in the following years. Phil Collins, Nathan East & Greg Phillinganes would record the album with Clapton, Collins co producing the album with Clapton and Tom Dowd. August was the second such collaboration with Collins in the 1980s.
1.) It's In The Way That You Use It
This is a catchy pop soul track which features a heavy Phil Collins influence from the off. The vocals from Clapton and Collins combine well and the musical backing works well. This is a more catchy track than much of Clapton's massively popular material but this was an excellent opener. Clapton wrote the song with Robbie Robertson of "The Band" fame. The song gets the album off to a good start.
This track was written by the famous Lamont Dozier best known as a member of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the songwriting and production team responsible for much of the Motown sound. This is an excellent track which has elements of funk and Clapton's guitar parts are expressive and combine well with the other instrumentation. Clapton's vocal effect is another Collins influence.
3.) Tearing Us Apart - Clapton, Eric & Tina Turner
This is one of the most catchy Eric Clapton tracks. It features crashing drums from Collins, funky hooks from Nathan East, sumptuous licks from Clapton himself and this is an all round very catchy track. Clapton's vocals are strong and backed up well. Tina Turner's vocals are loud and proud and this is an excellent collaboration that has been performed live superbly well. Over the years Clapton has performed the song with other female vocalists such as Katie Kissoon, Tessa Niles, Tracy Ackerman, Sheryl Crow, Sharon White and Michelle John. Clapton's guitar work towards the end is superb.
4.) Bad Influence
This track slows things down with Phil Collins starting the vocals off with his distinctive relaxed vocal. Clapton and Collins combine well vocally on much of this album. The track was written by Robert Cray & Michael Vannice. This is not one of Clapton's most well known tracks but has some excellent guitar licks and catchy hooks. The vocals are relaxed and emotive and this is a very polished track all round. Well performed.
5.) Hung Up On Your Love
This has a catchy stop start motion to open which soon gets into full flow. There's some nice drums from Collins and Clapton's signature guitar licks take things to a higher level. This is one of the catchiest tracks on the album and shows how much better his voice is when he's sober. This is another song written by Lamont Dozier and Clapton gives it the right treatment. Good stuff.
6.) I Take A Chance
This has some catchy guitar and keyboards which remind me a little of 80s Michael Jackson style. The vocals are well performed by Clapton. This is a good collaboration from Clapton, Nathan East and Greg Phillinganes. There's some nice female backing vocals which lead into a very nice relaxed guitar solo from Clapton. Good stuff indeed.
7.) Hold On
This track opens with a live drum sound from Collins and some gentle keys from Phillinganes. Clapton's catchy guitar licks are backed well by female backing vocals. Clapton's expressive vocals blend well with the gentle musical backing. This is a very pleasant track which is a Clapton, Collins collaboration on which both bring something decent to the table. Nice and relaxed song.
8.) Miss You
This one was composed by Clapton, Greg Phillinganes and Bobby Columby. It's a middle paced rock ballad with some excellent guitar work from Clapton. His vocals are well performed and there's some excellent drumming from Phil Collins. Interestingly this track wasn't too well received from the album but I think that while it's not up there with Clapton's best work it's still a decent song with some great guitar work.
9.) Holy Mother
This track has been recorded by Pavarotti but Clapton's version is a much more relaxed affair with some simple percussion, emotive vocals from Clapton with gentle strumming as he emotes the story. The lovely female backing vocals are an excellent touch and really compliment the emotion of Clapton's vocals. I love the way the song develops and there are some lovely guitar tones that really top things off wonderfully well.
10.) Behind The Mask
This was actually partially written by Michael Jackson and was on his posthumous release. The original was actually recorded by Japanese synthpop band Yellow Magic Orchestra. As you would expect, The various versions are completely different. On this version Clapton's vocals combine well with a catchy drum beat and some keys from Phillinganes. I put Michael Jackson's version slightly above this one but this is an excellent version. The sign of a good cover is making it your own and that's what Clapton did here.
This album received mixed reviews from critics but there's a lot to like about the album. It's not Clapton at his absolute best but there's some excellent material here and August will have a part in any Eric Clapton fan's collection. This may not have been one of his most critically acclaimed albums but it's an important one which saw the transformation from a drunk Clapton to a sober and much better singer. That is why August deserves it's place in Eric Clapton's back catalogue.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 It's In The Way That You Use It
3 Tearing Us Apart - Clapton, Eric & Tina Turner
4 Bad Influence
5 Hung Up On Your Love
6 I Take A Chance
7 Hold On
8 Miss You
9 Holy Mother
10 Behind The Mask