Eric Clapton naked!… not, perhaps, the prettiest of
images; but musically speaking, it’s the loveliest of
sounds. An acoustic guitar, a microphone and the sublime Slowhand
touch is the splendid basis for the main theme and incidental
music of The Story of Us. Draped with merely a rustle of congas,
Clapton’s delicate vocal smoke, and the barest of additional
ornamentation, this is a raw, honest recording – including
every delicious scrape and scratch of flesh on string, on wood
– that is a tribute to minimalism.
Mostly its romantic noodlings, with Clapton never quite rising
to his compositional zenith, but even when he’s coasting his
instinctive musicality shines through and, besides, it’s the
gorgeous, silky tone and tactile texture that provides the
emotional connection. A twist of variety is added by a couple of
brief but delightful continental-flavoured excursions –
replete with whimsical accordion accompaniment – that round
out the incidental tracks.
All this atmospheric lyricism is propped up with some
tremendous older recordings including Ruby Braff and his New
England Songhounds version of Fats Waller’s mischievous
Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now, Mason William’s classic
Classical Gas and a 1992 live cut of Clapton himself performing
the wonderful Wonderful Tonight.
But it’s the moody minimalism of Slowhands’s
acoustic guitar that provides the cream between these sonic
sweets; so intimate it’s like having Clapton, stripped to
the buff (metaphorically… mercifully), playing background
music in your dining room.