Album Review: “Slowhand” by Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton live in 1978 - HotRockinJohnny / Youtube
One of rock’s guitar gods finally named a catalog after his moniker. Slowhand was Eric Clapton’s fifth solo album, and is considered to be one of the musician’s best. Released in 1977, the catalog carved most of Clapton’s pop influence in the music industry, casually mixing his brand of blues, ballads, country, and rock compositions into a radio-friendly compilation. Slowhand was Clapton winning back the years he lost to substance abuse, which spiraled out of control even after his successful stints with The Yardbirds, Cream, and John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers, among others.
While his previous records showed more content from previous artists, remade to his own spec, Clapton stuck the perfect balance with Slowhand, still inviting some compositions by other artists, but majority of his work crowding the album. Eric Clapton struck gold with the commercial appeal Slowhand had, catching the interests of rock, blues, and a chunk of pop fans in the era.
The legendary JJ Cale’s “Cocaine” starts off the album with a groovy and catchy opening, not to mention the taboo lyricism, quickly became a crowd favorite, especially those in the experimental stage. “Wonderful Tonight”, arguably one of his most known songs, features a slow and lovely arrangement, complemented by Clapton’s hushed vocals and solemn cadence. Perpetuated when Clapton was waiting for his then-wife Pattie Boyd for a Paul McCartney concert, the sincere ballad earned notoriety as one of the most overused romantic songs for events around the globe.
Country is represented by “Lay Down Sally”, where Clapton hired the help of an Oklahoman backing band to achieve that tinge of tone, with the rhythm guitar taking the show in place of Clapton’s usual lead. “The Core” has Marc Levy joining Clapton for vocal parts, and features a pop sounding riff that carries a lot of dance groove with it. “We’re All The Way” is one of the best yet forgotten Clapton tracks that shares the same sentiments of “Wonderful Tonight”, relying on harmonies and an ambiance-carrying riff that accentuates the arrangement nicely. “May You Never” takes folk as an influence, while “Peaches And Diesel” is an instrumental masterpiece that involves a well-thought progression and accented by simple yet effective riffs occasionally.
Clapton really did bounce back from his slump in the early seventies with Slowhand. Managing to blend in a plethora of western genres into a radio-friendly compilation, Clapton had the late seventies by the neck with the album.