One of Eric Clapton’s best album releases was also one of his least known and most underrated of albums. Released in 1976, and featuring a long list of heavy hitters with Bob Dylan, Ron Wood, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, the then very popular Yvonne Elliman, Georgie Fame, and Billy Preston, amongst others, No Reason to Cry sits in between – not directly - 461 Ocean Boulevard and Slowhand. Recorded at The Band’s Shangri-La Studio in LA, this collaborative album provides songs flavoured with blues, gospel, and rock, spread out between multiple performers as opposed to being exclusively sung and predominately played by Eric Patrick Clapton. What happens is classic and not to be missed.
[no reason to cry] has 10 songs from the original release configuration of the album. In the most recent remaster of the album (re-released in 1996), the album is expanded to include a blues number called “Last Night.” “Last Night,” a Little Walter (influential blues harpist) composition, whether an outtake from the Shangri-La sessions or not, the Clapton version is gritty and an amazingly thankful add in the same blues vein as the Otis Rush song, “Double Trouble.”
The album starts with a great, bluesy “Beautiful Thing,” which is a Manuel/Danko (The Band) composition. Another Rick Danko tune is also included here, the Band-like “All Our Past Time,” that starts out with Clapton on vocals with the second verse going to Rick Danko. Bob Dylan contributes and sings on “Sign Language,” with Robbie Robertson’s noticeable guitar licks all over it. The classic tune off this album is “County Jail Blues,” a traditional blues written by Alfred Fields and arranged here by Clapton. The slide work on this song (I believe from Ronnie Wood – I could be mistaken) is fine stuff with the overall song, a smokin’ piece of work, especially here.
“Hello Old Friend,” is the song off this album that charted in the Top 40. Unfortunately, ask around and many will not remember the song that would have otherwise led them to this fine album. “Black Summer Rain,” another excellent Clapton composition, is not to be missed.
[no reason to cry], interspersed with traditional blues arrangements and original songs, is an album tucked into the Clapton catalogue, perhaps a bit too deep. The 1996 Clapton Remasters stands to be revisited, especially [no reason to cry] and a beefed up booklet (the 1996 remaster throws in a pathetically crammed 4-page “slip-sheet.”) added to the collection. I’m thinking a masterfully assembled digipak, perhaps with a few more unearthed tracks from these sessions (you can’t have a party like this and not have a few extra tracks sitting on a shelf or in a closet somewhere), a new essay perhaps from Robertson or Clapton himself, extended liner notes, and lots of photos.
If you haven’t heard [no reason to cry], then please take this opportunity as a chance to pick up on one of the unsung classic albums in Clapton’s catalogue. If you are already a fan of this album, why not dig it out and put it on – it will have you time-warped in nano-seconds.