The cover of this album is a simple photograph against a white drop. In the foreground, behind a monochromatic guitar stands Eric Clapton, one of the greatest musicians of our time. All you can see of him, though, is his left hand at the fretboard.
In 1963, Clapton joined the Roosters, his short-lived first band. In late 1963, Keith Relf and Paul Samwell-Smith asked him to be a part of The Yardbirds after hearing him on the local Blues scene.
Around this time, he was given the nickname "Slowhand", because whenever he would break a string on stage, he would change it to the accompaniment of a "slow hand clap" from the audience. 1
More than ten years later, after a string of bands (John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Derek and the Dominoes) which compromised his vision, made him increasingly uncomfortable with popular music, and alienated him as a "front man," Eric Clapton was ready to go solo.
He booted his drug habit, took hold of his stage fright, and hit the studio. In 1977 "Slowhand" became more than a nickname; it was used as the title of one of Clapton's first solo albums, arguably one of his best.. Tracks 1, 2, and 3 alone prove my point.
Take a look:
- 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
This album is blues, but it is also country. It is rock, but it is also pop. Slowhand is a collection of songs that are at once distinctly individual and complimentary. Simple guitar riffs in "Cocaine" turn into the classic ballad "Wonderful Tonight," that becomes the funky country tune "Lay Down Sally" that whirls into folk pop with "Next Time You See Her." "We're All The Way" is a love song, "The Core" is an incredible work of guitar genius, "May You Never" is an eerie pop-sounding-but-somehow-morbid tune, "Mean Old Frisco" is vintage blues and "Peaches and Diesel" closes things together in a Layla-esque instrumental ending.2
I want to explain this album to you, if you've never heard it. It's masterful, and makes it easy to see why Clapton is considered one of the all-time greats. But the only real explanation I can offer is this: Slowhand is biographical. It is an album made for people to live by; you play it on roadtrips, the first time you get high, at the end of every school dance, while you fall asleep in the sun on a picnic blanket, and at your wedding.
What else is there say?
1 quote taken from Eric Clapton by LaylaLeigh
2 gentle reminders courtesy of http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/collection/albums/slowhand.shtml