Eric Clapton (Reprise 26420) Given the number of concert recordings already in his catalog, news that Eric Clapton has released another live album is hardly going to stop the presses. "24 Nights" isn't just another live album, though. Drawing from 24 concerts the guitarist gave at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and '91, this double-length collection finds him working with a variety of bands, including the nine-piece group he toured with last year, an all-star blues group, even a symphony orchestra. And even though the hit-heavy song selection offers few surprises, the playing can be startling, whether through sparks thrown by guests like Buddy Guy (on "Have You Ever Loved a Woman") or spirited performances by Clapton himself (on "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Pretending" in particular).
FOR MY BROKEN HEART
Reba McEntire (MCA 10400)
Cross-over recordings always involve compromise, and that usually means that the artist's usual sound is diluted to attract a larger audience. That's not the case with Reba McEntire's "For My Broken Heart," however. As much as the album downplays its country side, emphasizing synthesizers over steel guitar and fiddle, the sound McEntire ends up with is no sellout. Instead of forsaking her roots, she's simply updated the country-pop approach of Ann Murray or Kenny Rogers, meaning that no matter how slick the album might sound, there's no mistaking the down-home sentiments of "Bobby" and "The Greatest Man I Never Knew."