RS-1-3039 Backless
Produced by Glyn Johns
Released on November 1978
Find it at GEMM
RS-1-3039 cover
[high resolution scan]

B ackless is one of the better Clapton albums, a second Slowhand that features one hit (“Promises”) and a couple of near misses (“Tulsa Time,” “Watch Out For Lucy”). Some critics have cast a shadow on it, saying it doesn’t measure up to Slowhand, but that’s a shadow most of Clapton’s work would fall under. I see the glass as half full; Backless is a better album than There’s One In Every Crowd, No Reason To Cry or Another Ticket. It’s also an appealing portrait of the Tulsa sound: sleepy on the surface, agitated underneath, with grooves that shuffle along smartly and piquant playing to spice up an otherwise unshakeable country/R&B foundation. No matter how catchy the hook, Clapton is unruffled by it; the man is so low key he’s an octave apart from your usual rock hero. Reconciling his laidback vocal delivery with that lively guitar is where the enigma lies, and Clapton on Backless is enigmatic. The material is what it always is: a few Clapton originals that usually stand out, a Dylan track (or two) that doesn’t and covers that fall somewhere in between (J.J. Cale’s “I’ll Make Love To You Anytime” sounds like a faster version of “Cocaine”). In one sense, Backless marks the end of an era; it would be the last record to feature the Tulsan backing band of Carl Radle (who passed away in 1980), Jamie Oldaker and Dick Sims. From here on, you’d be less likely to encounter such a rich tapestry of styles (R&B, country, folk, reggae) on a Clapton record. If the subsequent albums were more focused, they also held fewer surprises. Backless may have sold a million copies on the back of Slowhand, but it’s the quality of the playing (and, yes, the material) that keep people coming back to it years later.


  1. WALK OUT IN THE RAIN    (Bob Dylan/Helena Springs)    4:10
  2. WATCH OUT FOR LUCY    (Eric Clapton)    3:24
  3. I'LL MAKE LOVE TO YOU ANYTIME    (J.J. Cale)    3:21
  4. ROLL IT    (Eric Clapton/Marcy Levy)    3:40
  5. TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME    (Eric Clapton)    3:30
  6. IF I DON'T BE THERE BY MORNING    (Bob Dylan/Helena Springs)    4:35
  7. EARLY IN THE MORNING    (traditional arr. by Eric Clapton)    5:25
  8. PROMISES    (Richard Feldman/Roger Linn)    3:01
  9. GOLDEN RING    (Eric Clapton)    3:30
  10. TULSA TIME    (Danny Flowers)    3:30


ERIC CLAPTON -- guitar & vocals
MARCY LEVY -- vocals
JAMIE OLDAKER -- drums, percussion & vocals
CARL RADLE -- bass guitar & vocals
DICK SIMS -- keyboards
GEORGE TERRY -- guitar
Benny Gallagher -- backing vocals (9)
Graham Lyle -- backing vocals (9)
Glyn Johns -- engineer
David Stewart and Nello for El and Nell Ink -- design and art direction
Ken Carroll -- typography
Nello -- photography
Laura K. Sims, Rob Fraboni and Andy Seymour -- additional photography

US November 1978 RSO LP RS-1-3039 gatefold cover
UK November 1978 RSO LP RSD-5001 gatefold cover
GER 1978 RSO LP 2394 213 gatefold cover
JPN 1978 RSO LP MWF-1056 gatefold cover
YUG 1978 RTB LP ST 2220105  
JPN   RSO LP 18MW-0045 gatefold cover
US 1996 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-653 gold disc remaster
US 1996 Polydor CD 531 826 digital remaster
JPN 1998 Polydor CD POCP-9124  
JPN 2001 Universal CD UICY-9163 digital remaster


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