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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Blues > Multi-Channel Music > Eric Clapton - Slowhand (SACD)

Eric Clapton: Slowhand (SACD)


Music: A-†††† PCM CD sound: B†††† DSD Stereo: B+†††† DSD Multi-Channel: A-



I have had the privilege prior to this review to check out the Derek and the Dominoes SACD Layla and Other Love Songs, as well as Claptonís 461 Ocean Boulevard, which are both featured elsewhere on this site.This helped give me a good perspective for Slowhand, which is certainly one of his most popular selling albums of all time, due mostly to the overplayed Wonderful Tonight, and just about every Karaoke machine comes standard with Cocaine these days, but still this album remains a solid one throughout and the SACD format brings to life old favorites and new insights.


Clapton starts off this 1977 album with J.J. Caleís Cocaine, a song that was unintentionally written for Whitney Houston and perhaps Clapton himself it would seem.The song is mostly straight blues and a signature sound that helped forge Clapton to this point.The structure of the song is classic Clapton with an opening riff that repeats throughout with variations of that and then a twangy bit of blues lead here and there to give it some dynamic with the lyrics spread in a consistent manner throughout.Similar to Layla, minus the outro, both songs remain two of his most popular, most requested, and most imitated by beginner and intermediate guitar players.


Follow that up with Wonderful Tonight it takes the album down a notch to ĎHey, letís get a bottle of wine and danceí land, which is probably why every wedding or prom gets this requested at least a dozen times.The song is a slower bluesy sound that Clapton would not really go back to in any of his other material, rather this is a unique song all on itís own and as a matter of fact, most people who are unfamiliar with his work, rarely realize that this song is a Clapton tune.Or even better yet people seek this song out without bothering to listen to his other songs (i.e. the rest of this album).


Coming off Wonderful Tonight is a song I always enjoyed called Lay Down Sally, which to me represented the free-spirited sound that would soon end for Clapton once he entered the 80ís and began doing more serious work, due mostly to the circumstances surrounding his life during that period.This is a fun blues song straight to the core with your female backups adding some character to the mix.


Now the rest of the album contains the following six tracks Next Time You See Her, Weíre All the Way, The Core, May You Never, Mean Old Frisco, Peaches and Diesel, which like some listeners I never gave must attention to, but this SACD changed a lot of that mentality for me.Because the first three tracks are overplayed this SACD offered a fresh listen to those tracks, but itís the remainder of the album that really benefits from the format the most.What you will notice is that you will hear a slightly cleaner sound when playing the PCM CD layer in comparison to a basic CD of the album, but the DSD stereo mix offers a less compressed, fuller, and a punchier sound that resonated quite well.The DSD Multi-Channel takes you to a whole new world with instruments bouncing around the mix and allowing for better separation and distinction with vocals and band.


Layla and Other Love Songs as well as 461 Ocean Boulevard contained great mixes and the same case goes here.There are still some minor problems with the overall fidelity at times, which still bury some of the backing vocals and other instruments making them still seem buried in the mix.This is something rare for SACD, especially since the format can handle taking the original master tapes and dividing out each channel from that into a new mix, but perhaps time was not spent doing that to itís fullest here.Or perhaps another factor is that every mixer has different preferences as to what should and shouldnít be heard.Itís hard to gauge something like that with this since it was never designed for 5.1, but rather stereo.


Two other albums from Clapton that would be great to hear on SACD would be Journeyman (1989) and From the Cradle (1994), but I think the best move would be to release his MTV Unplugged performances as well as the Riding With the King album with B.B. King, or perhaps a Clapton greatest hits that includes material from Cream, any takers?



-†† Nate Goss


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