The unfavourable critical reaction to Clapton’s first solo album hit him hard – he’d been used to uncritical adulation for most of his career. Hunkering down with Bobby Whitlock in Hurtwood Edge, his stockbroker belt home, he concentrated on writing a new set of songs that would restore his reputation, inspired by his relationship with Patti Boyd. Assembling a now legendary band and recording in Miami, the result was a concise nine-song album that was an almost complete break from traditional blues, and delivered to Robert Stigwood in September 1970. While the new cover design was being prepared (see image), Stigwood, fearful of another “Clapton solo disaster”, rejected the album, virtually ordering the band back into the studio to expand it into a (more profitable) double by adding the blues numbers he felt Clapton’s following wanted. He also insisted Clapton’s name (“box office poison”) was replaced by a spurious band name. The result was a worldwide success, but the original album (of which actetates have survived) is thought by many (including me) to be the more successful artistic statement.
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