Sunday, November 28, 2010

Richard Clapton - Best Years Of Our Lives


Another Aussie name that's indelibly etched on my teenage years, Richard Clapton (or Dick Clap as the less-mature of my friends would have it) is probably our answer to the wave of West Coast sound that washed over us in the late 70s.  

It gave us the feeling we could compete on that stage - with the same lazy-sounding but effortlessly-executed riffs, and lyrics that told us of our East Coast mentality, name-checking Sydney's Palm Beach Road, Bondi Lifesaver and Oxford Street - along with the Tropic of Capricorn, which slices through the top third of our wide brown land.  You see, we share the same Pacific Ocean as the US - just seen from a few thousand miles in the other direction.  We had the same surf culture and the music - and for the first time I think we were starting to understand that despite our British roots, the colonials Down Under had a lot more in common with California than Cornwall.
Richard Clapton's notoriously shy, hiding behind those dark shades in every public appearance, but he's a well-deserved Hall of Famer in the Australian music scene.  And he has a warm, rich voice, that hasn't faded a bit, 40 years down the track.  I'd go and see him perform tomorrow, if I could.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP down in the lucky country


First of all, another big confession: I am not an Eric Clapton fan.  Cream was cool but Clapton's solo work has never done impressed me.  Oh, sure, I acknowledge his ability as a guitarist is without doubt but I find most of his songs to be fairly boring, with notable exceptions, of course.

But Australia has its own Clapton, an artist I much prefer and a man responsible for writing some of our finest songs, including Capricorn Dancer, Deep Water, Lucky Country, I Am An Island and Girls On The Avenue.  Allegedly taking his stage name by combining names of his two favourite artists, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, his reputation is well deserved.

While growing up in the 70s in the same hometown as Clapton (this being Sydney), his face and music were one of the regular, few Australian constants in a market place saturated with overseas acts.  And while the boy I was then had little appreciation for his songwriting skills, as I've aged, so have my tastes.  The songwriter in me knows brilliance when he hears it.  And age hasn't diminished Clapton's abilities either.  A recent live performance on a local television show only confirms this as he is still as vibrant and dynamic a writer and performer as he ever was.


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  1. I have to generally agree with your assessment of Eric Clapton. I enjoy some of his material but find much of it very overrated. For blues-rock guitarists I prefer the late Mike Bloomfield. For guitarist/keyboardist tandems I prefer Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield over Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton (although Blind Faith did put out a great album).

    Anyway onto Richard Clapton. I've heard some of his stuff but I've not yet warmed to him. The difference for me between him and Paul Kelly is that I've heard a handful of Kelly's songs and he hasn't grown on me yet, so I don't think he ever would. But with Clapton I don't believe I've heard enough of his material yet for him to have won me over. I've heard Get Back to the Shelter and maybe 2 or 3 others. I didn't dislike them but they didn't wow me either. I'm certainly willing to give him more of a chance. After all, the first time I heard Jimmy Barnes voice it grated on my nerves. Now I love listening to Barnesy!

  2. Not a big Barnesy fan myself - I much preferred his work with Cold Chisel. I prefer Paul Kelly to Clapton as well, although I don't mind Richard one little bit. His AOR sound can be a little galling sometimes, but very rarely.