For a guy some people call God, Eric Clapton is surprisingly down to earth in this made-for-MTV, all-acoustic concert. Which could explain why it’s ultimately more rewarding than last year’s collection of large-ensemble performances, ”24 Nights” — in his heart of hearts, Clapton may be more comfortable with the kind of bluesy minimalism the ”Unplugged” format encourages than with the overblown-by- definition music he has to play in arenas. Whatever the reason, this tape is a charmer, a collection of blues standards and recent Clapton songs rendered with just the right combination of intensity (a deeply felt version of ”Tears in Heaven”) and giddy fun (Clapton actually plays kazoo on ”San Francisco Bay Blues”). Pick hit: a radical reworking of ”Layla” in which the song (in part thanks to pianist Chuck Leavell) takes on a smoky-jazz-joint torch-song ambience that’s both expectation shattering and emotionally compelling.
We gave it an A-