fredag 10 februari 2017

Eric Clapton - Slowhand (UK 1977 w. "Cocaine" (SHM-CD)

270:- (SHM-CD Limited Remaster Edition. Eric Clapton klassiker. Utgången SHM-CD utgåva från 2008. Svår att finna.)

After the guest-star-drenched No Reason to Cry failed to make much of an impact commercially, Eric Clapton returned to using his own band for Slowhand. The difference is substantial -- where No Reason to Cry struggled hard to find the right tone, Slowhand opens with the relaxed, bluesy shuffle of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine" and sustains it throughout the course of the album. Alternating between straight blues ("Mean Old Frisco"), country ("Lay Down Sally"), mainstream rock ("Cocaine," "The Core"), and pop ("Wonderful Tonight"), Slowhand doesn't sound schizophrenic because of the band's grasp of the material. This is laid-back virtuosity -- although Clapton and his band are never flashy, their playing is masterful and assured. That assurance and the album's eclectic material make Slowhand rank with 461 Ocean Boulevard as Eric Clapton's best albums.

Eric Clapton has produced some of the most memorable music available in the 20th century and has been in a variety of bands, from Cream to Blind Faith and everything else in between. within these bands and throughout his solo career, Clapton has twisted the blues every which way to make it sound fresh and new and he's done a damn good job of it. In all honesties, he has done fantastically well with a career spanning around forty years rooted securly within the blues bracket. Of course, there have been exceptions; one being 'Slowhand's own 'Lay Down Sally'. Anyways, enough of that, I'm here to review albums.

The Album kicks off with the catchy riffing from Clapton, as he covers J.J Cale's 'Cocaine', a song about how you shouldn't use cocaine, apparently. Drug controversies aside, this song is a steady album opener and is fantastic when heard live. Clapton uses an intresting method of recording solo's over solo's, changing a few notes within the solo. Sounds nice. Great way to kick off the album.

The next song on offer is a strange one. 'Wonderful Tonight' is a song nobody expected from Eric Clapton and on top of that, in my opinion, it is poor, has no real direction and in all respects, Clapton can do so much better. Silly lyrics, alongside harmonising with a woman (no sexism meant) provide the soundtrack to a soppy romantic comedy. I lost a lot of respect for Clapton after this. Best worth skipping it, in my view. 

Next up, and back on track comes 'Lay Down Sally' a Knopfler-esque bluegrass number that is as cool as it is different. The use of female vcocals on this track really shine, and lyrics are clever and fit perfectly with the nice rolling drum beat. Clapton even offers a simple yet effective guitar solo. You'll be nodding your head to this one, it's a fantastic song and one of my favourite rock songs. 

Moving swiftly on, and we arrive at the final of Clapton's compostions on the album as it starts to settle here. Clapton utilises an acoustic guitar here for the rhythm/lead parts (the guitar lead parts are almost non existant in this song) a clever, swooping keyboard is also used and makes this song a good 'un. 'Next Time You See Her' is one of the better songs from the album.

Another slower song here, as Clapton breaks out some shimmering acoustic guitar lines, with soft lyrics and basic drum beats. More female related harmonising comes here, and this song follows that of 'Wonderful Tonight' only doesn't disapoint half as much. Short one, and an album filler, but decent enough.

Next comes what is probably the albums centerpeice. Clocking in at 8:45 and kicking off with a sizzling distorted riff that is joined by a keyboard peice. 'The Core' is a belter of a song, with our trusty female vocalist friend helps ol' Eric out here. It works well. A rather intresting sort of saxaphone (I think) solo kicks in here and provides another element that is unexpected from Clapton. A speedy guitar solo soon takes over here, and is the only real rock solo on the entire album. The song returns to verses, but not long later another Saxophone solo is present, followed again by a guitar solo, better than the last one in my opinion as the album dips into usual Clapton mode for a bit. Probably the best song on the album. 

Clapton breaks out the acoustic guitar here, with a kind of Eagles-style tune that doesn't disapoint and is one that I enjoyed quite a bit. No real solo is present here and the keyboards again provide the melody. Enjoyable enough.

Coming next is the song 'Mean Old Prisco' fires off with a overdirven, blues bottleneck guitar that oozes bad attitude. Clapton is in his element here, playing the blues and this song doesn't dissapoint. Jangly Piano tunes in here, and this basic song again doesn't disapoint, but it doesn't do anything for the album either. A cool sounding Slide guitar solo comes in, but just follows the melody, which is again fairly disapointing, considering I've never heard Clapton play slide before and after this single song. 

Finally we come to 'Peaches and Diesel' with yet more acoustic guitars, keyboards and the atmosphere that Clapton has provided the soundtrack to some bad romantic comedy. The song is an instrumental one and sports the best guitar solo on the album. But again it is something that Clapton can do better than and whilst the solo itself is well written and executed, the song doesn't really change from it's rom-com atmosphere. 

The album on a whole was rather experimental from Clapton and incredibly soft in terms of rock and roll. Not a fantastic one and could be describe as an album of album fillers, bar 'The Core'. Whilst it's enjoyable, it really doesn't hit the spot and with Clapton haing such a high reputation amongst some, this album won't have gone down well with them along with this, only 5 of the 9 tracks were written by Clapton, which may redeem him somewhat.. Highlight tracks include: The Core, Cocaine and Lay Down Sally. 

01. Cocaine  03:38
02. Wonderful Tonight  03:41
03. Lay Down Sally  03:52
04. Next Time You See Her  03:58
05. We're All The Way  02:30
06. The Core  08:42
07. May You Never  02:57
08. Mean Old Frisco  04:38
09. Peaches And Diesel  04:48