The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish and plays about as quietly as these RSO pressings ever do
- One of our favorite Clapton albums, but one that is notoriously difficult to find with top quality sound and audiophile quality playing surfaces
- With Glyn Johns behind the board, you can be sure the sound will be exceptionally rich, smooth, sweet and above all ANALOG
- 4 1/2 stars: "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 one of Eric Clapton's best albums."
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There are some excellent songs here, including Cocaine, Wonderful Tonight, and Lay Down Sally. As you may know, it is especially challenging to find good sound quality for this album. Most pressings are just too dull and veiled to enjoy.
Given the right pressing, this album can have surprisingly good sound, and, even more surprisingly, good music. Eric Clapton has made very few consistently good albums, especially considering his career has been going on for more than 40 years. Layla; his eponymous first album; 461 Ocean Blvd, Just One Night (very underrated) and Unplugged would be at the top of any Clapton list, along with Slowhand of course.
What the Best Sides of Slowhand Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1977
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Most Copies of Slowhand Just Plain Suck
As you may have read previously, our original shootout from years back started out as a total drag. We had an unbelievably difficult time finding good-sounding copies of this album.
We kicked things off with a British original that did nothing for us. Next up was a domestic White Label Promo, which was one of the worst sounding records we played all week. Our MoFi that we had just picked up was a step up from the WLP, but still not exactly what we were looking for. There was a German pressing that had some of the sonic qualities we were after but really wouldn't cut it as a true Hot Stamper.
It wasn't until we got into the regular RSO domestic pressings that we started to hear the real Slowhand magic. Once we found copies with more natural and correct sound, the album started working musically and the shootout quickly took off.
What We're Listening For on Slowhand
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Glyn Johns in this case -- would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Wonderful Tonight
- Lay Down Sally
- Next Time You See Her
- We're All the Way
- The Core
- May You Never
- Mean Old Frisco
- Peaches and Diesel
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
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.