Monday, April 10, 2006

Audiophilia: "Slowhand" - Eric Clapton SACD

Eric Clapton, "Slowhand" - Hybrid SACD.

Audiophile Audition's review

This is an exceptional album both for its content and for its recording quality. This album features a very blues-rock Clapton with well-known hits "Cocaine" and "Wonderful Tonight". The remaining songs are all excellent and are well-worth owning. I previously only owned Clapton's "Unplugged" and 1998's "Pilgrim" and have found "Slowhand" to be an exceptional addition. Not surprisingly many consider it one of his finest albums, if not the best.

The audio quality of this material from 1977 is phenomenal. The drums are particularly tight and present without being too forceful. Right from the first measure of "Cocaine" it's obvious that this is an exceptional presentation. There are almost no sonic defects to give away the fact that this was recorded almost thirty years ago! That's not to say that it rivals today's best direct-to-DSD recordings but at that point you're splitting hairs between "spectacular" and "awe-inspiring". Besides, those direct-to-DSD Mozart violin concertos may sound incredible, but I'd bet that most people will enjoy "Slowhand" a lot more.

There are so few high-resolution offerings of popular music; "Slowhand" belongs in the rarefied air of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms". However, though it belongs in their company, absolutely no one sits above "Dark Side of the Moon"...

The SACD's surround mix is generally effective, though I dislike having the backup singers directly behind me in "Wonderful Tonight". For most other tracks it adds a nice sense of depth and immersion. For those philosophically opposed to surround mixes, there is of course a new 2-channel SACD mix included on the disc.

Performance: Must-Have
Recording: Best of the Best SACD, popular music


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