Monday, November 24, 2008
Techno From Unexpected Faces: Eric Clapton
My college radio days coincided with the American Electronica Revolution (aka 1997) which gave me access to new music in a way that today can only be parallelled by anyone who knows how to log on to the internet (congratulations). Having a front seat to a musical movement allowed me to hear some albums that slipped by the larger public such as T.D.F.'s Retail Therapy. In an effort to guide dj's to better tracks and ferret out language that is less than FCC friendly all the station's music had short reviews and I recall that one staff member wrote something along the lines of "this is really good chill out music but it has these really annoying Poison guitar solos all over it". In a day and age when Daft Punk hid behind dog masks T.D.F. were ahead of the curve wearing helmets in all of their publicity photos even going further in creating a mystique by listing the group's members Simon Climie and someone named x-sample in the liner notes. As one of the first major label "electronica" acts out of the gate what they weren't saying was that Climie was an established industry sideman and that x-sample was a bizarre alias for Eric Clapton. The album has gone out of print but I can assure you that the album was decidedly more smooth jazz than anything else with only a few tracks that were even remotely on par with electronica of the time. The album's highlight is "Rip Stop" an admirable attempt at drum 'n' bass that came only a year after the sub-genre's first credible artist album was released:
: The album garnered some rough reviews including All Music Guide's that calls Retail Therapy "a bland, colorless dead alley into electronic music from two musicians who don't comprehend its essence" which may explain why there has never been a followup. However it's worth noting that in the late 80s Simon Climie's duo Climie Fisher had a not bad non-hit "Love Changes (Everything)" underscore an important montage of Savage Steve Holland's How I Got Into College and that movie has a young Lara Flynn Boyle attempting to play a character with warmth. That's almost as strange as a 60s guitar icon attempting drum 'n' bass.