Slowhand

Slowhand

Produced by Gyln Johns


Cocaine 3:38
Wonderful Tonight 3:41
Lay Down Sally 3:53
Next Time You See Her 3:59
We're All The Way 2:30
The Core 8:41
May You Never 2:58
Mean Old Frisco 4:37
Peaches And Diesel 4:46

Reviews

Clive Barrett

Rating : 7/10

7 February 2008


I understand that it is sacrilegious to suggest that SLOWHAND isn’t one of Eric Clapton’s best albums. However, in my opinion, it is good album but hardly the classic work that some fans believe it to be.

The material runs the gamut from excellent to fair. “Cocaine” by J.J. Cale is superb and some of the original material such as “The Core” and “Peaches and Diesel” are inspired but there are also songs included which are overrated and pedestrian.

The production by Glyn Johns does not sound very exceptional despite his (well deserved) reputation as first-rate producer. It was said that Johns enforced a more disciplined and rigid approach to recording and that Clapton chafed under the imposition after working closely with Tom Dowd for so many years. Dowd had a musician’s temperament and infinite patience in permitting the music to develop. His approach was perfect for the initially directionless Derek and the Dominos in the fall of 1970 and for Clapton’s return to the music scene in spring of 1974 after several years of exile. The sessions conducted at Olympic Studios in London could not have been further removed than the party-like atmosphere of Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California, where the previous studio album, NO REASON TO CRY, had been recorded. Clapton had become reacquainted with Johns when he participated in sessions for an album by Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane called ROUGH MIX and he enlisted the producer’s assistance with the recording of a new album.

Clues regarding the tone of SLOWHAND were evident. Clapton frequently spoke of his admiration for both J.J. Cale and Bob Dylan and during the previous year he had also spoken publicly of his admiration for Country & Western artist Don Williams with whom he made a public appearance at the Hammersmith Odeon providing dobro accompaniment. It is also no coincidence that “’Til The Rivers All Run Dry” by Williams had been included in the Townshend/Lane sessions produced by Johns. [NOTE: I recommend that you invest in ROUGH MIX by Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane. It is a very good album which is quite similar to SLOWHAND in many regards. It also features bassist Dave Markee and drummer Henry Spinetti who would both go on to work with Clapton in years to come.] Finally Clapton had signaled his intent to record a romantic ballad on his next project when he recorded a demo version of “Wonderful Tonight” with Ronnie Lane in September 1976.

Generally speaking the musicians (Terry, Radle, Oldaker, and Sims) sound more subdued and laid-back than on previous albums. At times the band sounds energetic and yet at other times tepid and uninspired. Interestingly enough live tracks from this same period reveal them to fine form. Second guitarist George Terry, as always, is tasteful and unobtrusive, and keyboardist Dick Sims has some fine moments on the album but the rhythm section of bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jamie Oldaker sound flat. This is particularly disappointing as Carl Radle displays little of the musical chops that made him one of the world’s premier bass guitarists back in the days of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, Clapton’s 1970 debut solo album and legendary Derek and the Dominos. Jamie Oldaker, regarded by many as one of the finest Clapton drummers, employs a minimalist approach on many of the tracks and fails to generate either excitement or tension. Yvonne Elliman is virtually non-existent on the album which is a shame as her rich and distinctive vocals were very impressive on earlier albums such as 461 OCEAN BOULEVARD, THERE’S ONE IN EVERY CROWD and EC WAS HERE. Marcy Levy steps forward to fill the void on this album in terms of in terms of vocals and song writing and contributes significantly to such songs as “Lay Down Sally” and “The Core”. However, her voice is an acquired taste and I personally find it to be grating and distracting.

Among the best tracks are “Cocaine”, “The Core”, and “Peaches and Diesel”. “Lay Down Sally” written by Clapton, Levy, and Terry is strongly influenced by J.J. Cale just as “Next Time You See Her” by Clapton is strongly influenced by Bob Dylan. Both of those songs are fine but nothing exceptional. “Wonderful Tonight” written by Clapton is problematic for me. I acknowledge that it is a popular ballad and I applaud his desire to publicly express his affection for his partner as well as his courage for including a somewhat less than flattering lyrical depiction of he and Pattie’s domestic (private) life. The song also features a simple but beautiful melody and guitar refrain but the recording and performance is bland and somnolent. [NOTE: The true beauty of this song would not be fully explored until the version featured on 1991’s 24 NIGHTS.]

The arrangement for “Mean Old Frisco” varies little from the 1971 version by Derek and the Dominos although Clapton does provide some nice slide guitar. The cover versions of John Martyn’s “May You Never” and Don William’s “We’re All The Way” are basically acoustic numbers which add little to the album other than serving as filler.

I have always felt that if you combined tracks from SLOWHAND and BACKLESS, you would have a very interesting and worthwhile album. In fact, if Clapton had not been so caught up in the cycle of yearly album releases, I believe that would have been the case. Consider an album which includes Cale’s “Cocaine” and “I’ll Make Love To You Anytime”, Dylan’s “If I Don’t Be There By Morning, the blues workout of “Early In The Morning”, original material co-written by Clapton and band-mates such as “”Lay Down Sally” and “The Core” plus original compositions such as “Wonderful Tonight”, “Tell Me That You Love Me”, “Watch Out For Lucy” and “Cryin’” and cover material such as “Promises” and “Tulsa Time”.

 

Ian Low

Rating : 10/10

5 August 2005


Finally, Slowhand comes to hi-resolution format. I have heard multiple CD versions from the original to the Gold Disc to the remastered, but this new SACD version just blows the rest away.

Slowhand has always been my favourite Clapton album over the years. Classic Clapton originals like Lay Down Sally and Wonderful Tonight define his style and song writing capabilities and singing. His voice has an aching and tender reach on the ballads, and yet bluesy growl on the fast tracks.

From 461 and Slowhand, Clapton began to rely less on his guitar prowess on albums, but move towards stronger songwriting and singing to establish his albums, and Slowhand is the best example of it. And yet, his taste for covers cannot be faulted either.

Dusting off JJ Cale's Cocaine and William's We're With YOu All the Way shows how he can choose the right material to augment his own songs, until they blend into a seamless piece of excellent work.

Ending the album with an instrumental ballad that recalls the piano coda to Layla, Slowhand remains his best and most focused work over the years. And throw in a great guitar jam in the epic Core, you get a Clapton masterwork that is as timeless now as it was commercially and critically successful during its original release almost 30 years ago.

Listening to the 5.1 mix by the original producer, Glyn Johns did a superb work. Although some has commented the mix sounds muddy, its actually not and its true to its original sound. Its natural and spatial mix and creative surround mixing by Johns gives this classic a new dimension that was not there before.

The electric solos now sound more alive and kicking and even the tender fender licks that kick off Wonderful Tonight sounds so much there and enveloping. Its the drums that has a tendency to sound muddled underneath and the strong bass levels that gives the muddy impression. BUt '70s recordings tend to be presented in such fashion and listening it over again, the surround mix is just perfect and natural. Compared to the bright but not as creative surround mix of 461, this is far superior in the end.

A compulsory purchase and listening for every Clapton fan.

 

Bill Gray

Rating : 8/10

17 May 2005


I have to admire the energy and efforts it takes to try and do what you love and at the same time grow to this day [2005]. I have always felt the core was a r/b rocker along the lines of/ stones gimme shelter except I think it [The Core] should be better and have always waited for Mr Clapton to open a k\live show with the right female kicking in the girl tracks. I don't think the editing did it justice....Mean Old Frisco and then Peaches and Diesel two ends to justify the means so to speak...and isn't it odd that they weren't the tracks that pop radio jumped on......but I think they are the best.

 

Joel

Rating : 10/10

28 October 2004


This is a class album which I could listen to forever . Features some classic tracks such as cocaine and wonderful tonight. Yet again Mean Old Frisco never ceases to amaze me with its great 12 bar blues.

 

Peter Trizna

Rating : 6/10

6 August 2004


OVERRATED. I am a bit sad that many people think it is his best and underrate stuff like Another ticket or Theres one in every crowd. I love Cocaine and Wonderful tonight and I like the slide on Mean Old Frisco and soloing on The Core. But I think Lay down Sally is his most overrated song and there is too much boring folk and country on here for my tastes.

 

Carlos Benedict

Rating : 8/10

20 November 2003


"Slowhand" is solid EC product from the 1970's.  Although not a classic album in and of itself, it is highly regarded for the inclusion of top notch and hugely popular material still featured on stage 26 years later.  An excelent rendition of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine", the maudlin yet achingly beautiful "Wonderful Tonight" and the Chuck Berry meets J.J. Cale romp of "Lay Down Sally" represent the strongest opening tracks ever to grace a Clapton album and set a standard which the rest of the album fails to consistently achieve.  EC's interest in the craft of C & W artist Don Williams which first to came to light in the fall of 1976 is represented here by the inclusion of William's song "We're All The Way".  Interestingly enough another Don Williams song ("Till The Rivers All Run Dry") was included in the early 1977 joint collaboration by Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane (produced by Glyn Johns and featuring Clapton on several tracks) called "Rough Mix" which was a stylistic precursor to "Slowhand".  Clapton's composition entitled "Next Time You See Her" features some nice country rock guitar work but is essentially a blatant knock-off of a Bob Dylan song from 1975's "Blood On The Tracks".  John Martyn's "May You Never" is a nondescript but pleasant tune which adds very little to the album and Arthur Crudup's "Mean Old Frisco" (first recorded by Derek and the Dominos at their abortive sessions in May of 1971) is listless and perfunctory.  "The Core" is a standout track featuring a great riff, interesting lyrics, strong vocals by EC anbd Marcy Levy, a first rate saxophone solo by Mel Collins (of Ronnie Lane's band) and an excellent studio solo by Clapton which is somewhat reminiscent of Cream's version of "Crossroads" from the 1968 "Wheels of Fire" album.  The album concludes with a rare (at the time) instrumental track credited to Clapton and Albhy Galuten.  "Peaches and Diesel" is a beautiful tracks which perfectly compliments "Wonderful Tonight" and closes the album on a pleasing but melancholy note.

 

Nick Smith

Rating : 5/10

4 July 2003


It is strange that I can be disappointed by this album when nearly everyone else believes it Eric's best. Sure it has great songs, but to me it sounds as though Eric is laid back and not putting out the 150% we have grown so accustomed to him doing. "Cocaine", "Wonderful Tonight", and "Lay Down Sally" are great songs, but they don't do what other songs have done for me in other Clapton albums. I think other songs on the album shine more than these three. "The Core" and "Peaches and Diesel" are my favourites on this album, yet I am still disappointed at the laid back attitude I feel Clapton came into with this album.

 

Michael Wheeler

Rating : 9/10

10 March 2003


Slowhand is one of the Classic albums of Clapton's career. It starts with the standard "Cocaine" which shows some slide guitar and a solid solo. The second song is the Classic "Wonderful Tonight" which is one of Clapton's finest songs. It is a song he plays in concert even to this day. If you want to hear a version that will haunt you, listen to the version on 24 nights. Lay Down Sally is next and a fun little rocker. It shows EC having a little fun. "Next time you see her is not one of his better songs.
"We're all the Way is a standard Don Williams song. It shows the country side of EC. It is worth a listen and fun."The Core is a rocker with Marcy Levy contributing vocals and Eric doing a strong solo which is rare in a studio recording in the 70's. It also has a saxophone that is interesting.
"May you never" is not a strong song, but worth a listen. Again has a country influence. Next is the Blues song "Mean ole Frisco" which shows slide guitar and is a must for blues fans like myself.
The finale is a guitar solo "Peaches and Diesel" which I thinks is a tribute to the Late Duanne Allman. It shows a side of Eric we don't see enough.

The album is a must for any Eric Clapton Fan!

 

Peter Nelson

Rating : 7/10

29 October 2001


Although the sonic impact of the hit singles on Slowhand ('Cocaine,' 'Lay Down Sally,' and 'Wonderful Tonight') has been blunted somewhat by AM-radio overkill, one can still find exciting moments on this album's lesser-known cuts. 'The Core,' for example, features some of the fastest lead-guitar runs ever laid down by Eric in the studio, while 'Peaches and Diesel' shows off his (at the time) under-utilised talents as an instrumental composer. Similarly, 'Mean Old Frisco,' the only blues standard on the album, features forceful slide-guitar and vocals from Eric. The remaining ballads - if a little on the lightweight side - are still pleasant and hummable.

 

Bill Minnich

Rating : 8/10

2 January 2001


This album is Eric Clapton excusing himself from all that's gone before. Having started as a blues player, he found himself having hits playing in a rock band with the Yardbirds or in a supergroup with Cream. When he'd try to stick to his blues roots, he'd find himself stifled (with John Mayall) or over-produced (with Derek and the Dominoes). So he tried to move on, but, as so many artists before him, he sank into drug abuse, and we almost lost one of the greatest talents the world had ever seen.

But, having finally pulled himself out of the mire, he produced this album. It included, as the first 3 tracks, the songs that most of the world thinks of when his name comes up. "Lay Down Sally" was one of the first cross-over hits, and can still be heard occasionally on country stations. "Cocaine" is probably the penultimate rock anthem -- there might be a better one out there, but I can't come up with anything except "Stairway to Heaven" (on the other hand, it probably sucks to be in rehab when this comes on the radio).

And of course, "Wonderful Tonight" Some people might not like it. Might even call it simple, or even stupid. Those people are just showing their own ignorance, of course. "Wonderful Tonight" was written by Mr. Clapton as an apology to Patty Harrison for an argument they'd had, and was usually played directly to her (even if this gave the audience a side view of him singing to the wings). It is, indeed, simple -- a simple declaration of love from a man to a woman. And if you think his relationship with her came easy, look up the details. Preferably while you're listening to the Dominoes' "When a Man..."

 

Andrew Powell

Rating : 9/10

20 November 2000


This album gave birth to some of the most popular EC tracks ever. Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine, Lay Down Sally three massive tracks. The rest album holds up well, great solo's in 'The Core.' The rest of the album has a country feel, EC pulls it off well, as its not 'too' country for me.

A great, well 'Classic' album from EC's back catalogue

 

Daniel

Rating : 7/10

18 November 2000


A lot of people, including Eric himself, think of the "Slowhand" - album as one of his best. I'm not that excited. Sure, everyone knows most of these songs, at least the three first ones: Cocaine, Wonderful Tonight and Lay Down Sally, but what else has this album to offer? Not much.

The great opening riffs of Cocaine really makes you think that you're going to hear something special.

And the J.J. Cale - composed song easily makes you wanna hear more. Great riff, great solo. Deserves the status it has earned through the years. No wonder why it's one of Clapton's stage-favorites!

The second song is also very popular and the big hit off this album: Wonderful Tonight. A pretty ballad with an very nice intro. Unfortunately the lyrics are very simple, almost stupid, and I think this number is very overrated and I'm having problems realizing the public's love for it. I do admit that if you don't think too much and don't listen to the lyrics it's a good song. Enough of that. Lay Down Sally is written by Marcy Levy (backing vocals during most of EC's tours and albums in the seventies), George Terry (guitar during most of EC's tours and albums in the seventies) and Eric Clapton (guitar and vocals during most of EC's tours and albums in the seventies!). A fast country song with, again, pretty dumb lyrics. However, I do like this song mostly because of the great intro. Really don't know how to explain it, there are two guitars doing some bass-string picking and on top of that the bass-guitar doing some more picking. It's great! This album contains some easy, forgettable material, such as this next song: Next Time You See Her. To me, this song is a copy of Dylan's If You See Her, Say Hello. Eric's version is more up tempo, pure country, dumb lyrics and not as personal as Bob's version (that can be found on his very, very good 1975 album, "Blood On The Tracks"). One more ballad follows, We're All The Way. Once again, very easy forgettable. Next song is one of the highlights on this album, an duet between Eric and Marcy Levy, The Core. Could just as well been on the record "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs". Great rocker, might with it's nearly nine minutes be a little bit long, but that's very easily forgiven.

Now, when did you hear about an Clapton album without a blues number? Never! Of course then this song that follows is a blues: Mean Old Frisco. In my opinion it's always the blues numbers that's the best on an Eric Clapton album, this time it's not... Mean Old Frisco is very laid back, I don't have a problem with that, never changing the pattern which makes me wanna skip that song every time I put this record on. I do like the combination of acoustic slide-guitar and the electric, though.

We have now arrived to the last song on this album, and I think the best. An instrumental ballad, very George Harrison-like and I love it! If it would have had lyrics, it surely been one of Eric's most well-known songs and a big hit. But since the writing of lyrics during this album weren't very good, so perhaps it's for the better that there never were any lyrics written. Peaches And Diesel together with Cocaine, Wonderful Tonight and The Core keeps the rating up for this album. Most people love it, I think of it as an hardly, average Clapton- album. Too much country and too little of the blues and rock. Why did he leave Derek And The Dominos?


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