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According to Eric Clapton's sleeve notes, 'Reptile' is a term of endearment "used much in the same way as 'toe rag'". Lucky then that the title track is instrumental, I suppose: otherwise we might have had a love sonnet dedicated to a scumbag, snot-rag or fag-hag.
John Walshe, 15 Feb 2001
While not a massive fan of the former Cream and Yardbirds axeman, I have always respected the quality of his musicianship. Still, from the first bars of 'Got You On My Mind' I found myself pleasantly surprised. The chemistry and sense of fun that these musicians had in the studio shines through every note of this old-fashioned, mid-paced blues standard, calling to mind Mark Knopfler's sojourn with The Notting Hillbillies.
The version of JJ Cale's 'Travellin' Light' has echoes of Chris Rea's laid-back cool, and 'I Want A Little Girl' drips with old-style blues and soul. On the other hand, newer tracks like 'Broken Down' and 'Second Nature' are too derivative for their own good.
Of the covers, Stevie Wonder's 'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It' becomes a guitar-driven AOR also-ran, yet James Taylor's 'Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight' is transformed into a shimmering, soulful plea, with Clapton proving there's talent in his tonsils as well as his fingers. 'Come Back Baby' remains true to the spirit of Ray Charles' gravelly, emotive slow blues swing: Clapton's voice getting all deep down and dirty, and Tim Carmon's ivory-hammering adds an extra dimension.
Clapton's own compositions are a mixed bag. 'Modern Girl' is less than inspiring, but he makes up for it with the endearing, 30s-swing of 'Find Myself' and the gentle, melancholy instrumental, 'Son & Sylvia'.
Reptile is hardly going to convert the indie kids to Clapton's cause, but for those who have grown old gracefully along with the guitar god, these bruised, bluesy standards will do just fine to keep on keepin' on.