Friday, April 25, 2014

Eric Clapton's Behind The Sun, Journeyman Albums Now On SACD

High-definition audio fans of Steve Hoffman are in for a double dose of Eric Clapton from the 1980s. The guitarist's 1985 comeback album Behind The Sun and 1989's Journeyman are now available on hybrid SACD from Audio Fidelity.

In the 1980s, the musical climate changed dramatically from the days when Clapton, Led Zeppelin and other guitar-based artists ruled in the 1970s. Behind The Sun is not Clapton's first album of the decade, but he obviously understood it was time to modernize his sound. After signing with Warner Brothers in 1983, Clapton bounced back on the music charts for the first time in five years, and solidified his return in 1985 with the instant success of Behind The Sun, his ninth album.

Backed with a line-up of stellar musicians and producers Lenny Waronker, Rod Templeman and Phil Collins, Clapton for the first time in years now had several songs that reached a wider audience scoring Top 40 hits with "Forever Man" and  "See What Love Can Do." He didn't abandon his old music, he just blended it more effectively and brought the flavor up to date by mastering the more electronic sound of 80s radio.

This album also had a heavy soul flavor with a really well produced version of Eddie Floyd's "Knock On Wood" and Clapton remained true to the blues with a brilliant eight minute track, "Same Old Blues" which contains some of his most electric playing of the era.

The sessions featured Toto guitarist Steve Lukather and former drummer Jeff Porcaro, as well as Clapton's long-time collaborators, drummer Jamie Oldaker, bassist Nathan East and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes.

Four years later, after 1986's August, Clapton released Journeyman, which reached #16 on the Billboard album charts and became the guitarist's first solo studio album to go double platinum. The album was heralded as a return to form for Clapton, much of it has an electronic sound, mostly influenced by the 1980s rock scene, but it also includes blues songs like “Before You Accuse Me,” “Running on Faith,” and “Hard Times.”

Journeyman boasts an all-star assembly of guests: Dire Straits keyboardist Alan Clark, George Harrison, Chaka Khan, Daryl Hall, Robert Cray, Cecil and Linda Womack, Phil Collins and Gary Burton. Among the highlights are several cuts that feature slide-versus-slowhand guitar dueling with Cray. Harrison is particularly impressive on his little masterpiece “Run So Far,” playing guitar and singing harmony vocals.

A couple of tracks rank among Clapton's best from any decade.The strongest commercial single is “Bad Love,” which won the 1990 Best Male Rock Vocal Performance Grammy Award, and reached the No. 1 position on the Album Rock Chart. “Pretending” is a firm mid-tempo rocker that also reached the No. 1 position on the Album Rock Chart and and includes one of his most assured vocal performances ever.

The Behind The Sun and Journeyman SACDs were mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering.