Song of the Week – Just Like A Prisoner, Eric Clapton


Every musician/band has their “golden age” no matter how great their entire musical legacy may be. Today’s case in point is Eric Clapton. He made his mark early on with major contributions to some of the most important records in rock history with The Yardbirds, John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie and Derek & The Dominoes. But with each of those bands he became restless in short order and never spent more than a few years with any of them.

Then he went solo and that’s the part of his career that I mean to discuss today. Clapton has recorded some 30 albums since his first solo release, Eric Clapton in 1970. That was followed by 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), Slowhand (1977) and Backless (1978) – his “golden age”. Many of you can name at least a few songs on each of those albums but how many of you can name a few songs on August (1986), Pilgrim ((1998) or Reptile (2001). Only true fans, for sure.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that the records he produced after the 70s don’t contain lots of good music. It’s just that we fans lose interest and need to work harder to keep up and find the gems within.

One such gem is “Just Like A Prisoner” from Behind the Sun (1985).

OK, I admit that the lyrics are a bit mundane, but Clapton’s guitar playing is amongst his best since Layla (perhaps because it was inspired by the same woman). In fact I recently read in MOJO he was once asked if he’d ever created “a thing of beauty.” “A long solo at the end of Just Like A Prisoner,” he replied. “It gets better and better. You think, ‘This could go on forever’. Some of the most beautiful guitar playing I’ve ever heard. And it’s me.”

That’s a good enough endorsement for me!

The only problem is that the cut contains typical 80s production values (the album was produced by the then VERY HOT Phil Collins). If the song could be remixed to take out the wash of synthesizers and drum machines the solo would stand out more and probably sound a lot better (IMHO).

Enjoy… until next week.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Just Like A Prisoner, Eric Clapton

  1. You’re right, it sounds like a Phil Collins song with Eric Clapton. I firmly believe that his solo career constitutes conclusive proof that Clapton is a born sideman. He needs direction, he needs other ideas, he needs a band. But yes he is a great guitar player, one of the few who combines virtuosity with balls.The first solo on this one is damn good, the second one of the best ever:

  2. 1) Yeah, I just had to skip to the end on the Phil Collins tune. Don’t know what the solo would have to be to get through the rest of the song.

    2) Never was a big Clapton fan, Gene. Certainly the virtuosity is there, but I never heard tons of balls. Sorry. I’ll concede balls on that second “Crossroads” solo, for sure.

    3) Maybe part of it for me is, I know THIS IS CREAM GODDAMMIT, but rhythm guitar. Rhythm guitar! (Probably why I was never into Hendrix as much as should be.)

    4) Give me them Wayne Kramer arpeggios any day. (With Sonic Smith grinding away all the while.)

  3. I dropped Crossroads on here a while back when Jack Bruce died I think.

    I am w/gene. Eric needs a band. I always thought of all his stuff post/Layla as “more songs from an ex-heroin addict.”

    The solo in this is ok, but not close to as purposeful as the two in Crossroads.

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