Video Saturday – Eric Clapton Unplugged

There’s a comment in the YouTube comments section for this video that simply says “When MTV was good”, and I can’t disagree with that, although I readily admit, it could be my age.

You see, back in the 1980s when we first started to see music-only channels like MTV pop up on our satellite viewing schedules it was all about the music, really simple format, we play music videos all day long and people who like music switch us on and watch music or use us as a radio and have us on in the background, thats the sales pitch, it worked, MTV outsold VH1 and Musicbox by a factor of many and eventually some executive at the channel had the simply wonderful idea that if you FORCED a popular beat combo music act of the day to play only acoustic instruments then you’d get a unique insight into how they work and what their musicianship is actually like.

And it thrived, or at least it thrived among those popular beat combo music acts who actually could play acoustic instruments as if their lively hood depended on it rather than letting some studio musicians play all the hard parts for them.

One of the first Unplugged bands that I saw on MTV was a band of rag-tag musicians that Paul McCartney had strung together for the occasion and they took the acoustic theme to heart, no electric bass but a traditional double bass, and the keyboard was an old church-style hand pumped wind organ – after that the specification was allowed to be stretched slightly but even so it was always an excellent showcase of just which bands could REALLY play and which ones were too scared to go on.

If they tried it on MTV now ( assuming that MTV ever want to go back to showcasing music again), then the series would be short, or maybe just called “Plugged”.

So twenty years ago Eric Clapton was invited to perform on Unplugged and came up with his definitive playlist and his definitive band and a masterpiece of Music TV was recorded for posterity that still sells well on dvd today – he introduces the band before this first video, twenty years on only the percussion section are not still playing with him on tour, Andy Fairweather-Low is grafted to Claptons left leg these days, when Eric goes shopping in Asda for his Sunday lunch he simply picks the food off the shelf and hands it to AF-L to put in the basket, he’s always there and has never dropped anything.

But now, the absolute ABSOLUTE definitive Clapton tune…

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