- A superb sounding Duck/Reprise import copy with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Forget the dry sounding domestic copies – these imports were the only ones good enough for us to put in a shootout
- Rich, lively, spacious – these imports are surprisingly good sounding for a recording from as late as 1989
- The big hit was Pretending, but Bad Love (both went to Number One) won the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal
- 4 1/2 stars: “… a laid-back and thoroughly engaging display of Clapton’s virtuosity. On the whole, it’s the best studio album he’s released since Slowhand.”
This vintage Duck/Reprise import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What Hot Stampers on Journeyman have to offer is not hard to hear:
- 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 studio space
- 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 1989
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.
What We Listen For on Journeyman
- 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 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.
Anything For Your Love
Running On Faith
Run So Far
Lead Me On
Before You Accuse Me
Although Journeyman still suffers from an overly slick production, Clapton sounds more convincing than he has since the early ’70s. Not only is his guitar playing muscular and forceful, his singing is soulful and gritty. Furthermore, the songwriting is consistently strong, alternating between fine mainstream rock originals (“Pretending”) and covers (“Before You Accuse Me,” “Hound Dog”). Like any of Clapton’s best albums, there is no grandstanding to be found on Journeyman — it’s simply a laid-back and thoroughly engaging display of Clapton’s virtuosity. On the whole, it’s the best studio album he’s released since Slowhand.