With a massive library of songs and styles spanning five(!) decades, Eric Clapton is always at his best when he plays the blues. After a successful collaboration last year with B.B. King on Riding with the King, Reptile is essentially a solo follow-up project that even goes as far as to include many of the session players from the King release. From slow-moving ballads to acoustic based 12-bar blues, Reptile is a solid record from start to finish.

Paul Wong
Walter (Charles Sutherland) stands over Hildy (Carl Hanna) in “”The Front Page.””<br><br>Courtesy of Glenn Bugala

Through 14 tracks, Clapton performs half a dozen covers, ranging from a country/blues mix of Stevie Wonder”s “I Ain”t Gonna Stand For It” to a groovin” version of J.J. Cale”s “Traveling Light.” Clapton”s own standout tracks include the fiery “Superman Inside,” reminiscent of his late “80s Journeyman days, and the title track, “Reptile,” an instrumental piece with a salsa beat. He even does a Marvin Gaye impersonation on a cover of James Taylor”s “Don”t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” just one of the many bluesy love ballads on the CD.

As expected, all tracks feature superb solos, but Clapton doesn”t go as far as to abuse his talent by cramming the songs with extended guitar riffs and fill-ins. Overall, Reptile may not go down as one of Slowhand”s most influential modern releases, but it shows the legend is still doin” his thing … and doin” it well.

Grade: B

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