- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
- Both sides here are clean, clear and super spacious with a punchy bottom end and lots of big rock energy
- Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- “The first and last Clapton studio album to feature his all-British band of the early ’80s, it gave considerable prominence to second guitarist Albert Lee and especially to keyboard player/singer Gary Brooker (formerly leader of Procol Harum), and they gave it more of a blues-rock feel than the country-funk brewed up by the Tulsa shuffle crew Clapton had used throughout the 1970s.”
- One of the better sounding copies to hit the site in a while – this British original earned Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
- Rich, smooth, clear sound throughout – listen to the grungy guitars on Walk Out In The Rain – that’s the way they should sound all right
- Clapton comes to life on the traditional blues Early In The Morning – it also has the best sound on the album
- “Backless is a seductive record, if you’re attracted to the interplay of Clapton’s dolorous voice and Marcy Levy’s raspy backup vocals, George Terry’s slide guitar and Glyn Johns’ pristine production.” Rolling Stone
The true test for side two was the second track, the old blues song Early In The Morning. It’s by far the best sounding track on the album, with huge space, rich bass, a fat snare and Tubey Magic to die for. This is the kind of sound that only the likes of Glyn Johns can get down on tape, live in the studio no doubt, and it made it easy to do the shootout for side two. The bigger, the richer, the tubier, the more transparent the better. It’s THE track to demo with. (more…)
NEWSFLASH! [circa 2010]
Noticing that this title had recently come back into print, and remembering that we used to like the SVLP of Layla, we decided to order a current copy of the album from SIMPLY VINYL. Soon enough it came in, we played it, and we were pretty shocked to hear that the damn thing sounded just plain AWFUL.
Was I wrong about it before? Only one way to know. I pulled out my old Review Copy from way back when it first came out and sure enough that early pressing sounded dramatically BETTER than the new one. The stampers were completely different of course; someone had remastered it recently and ruined it.
The earlier SVLP pressing, though no award winner by any means, was at least a good record. This new pressing was nothing but a piece of crap.
Our Old Comments
Simply Vinyl did a great job with this one, one of the most problematical recordings in the history of rock. This music will never sound as good as we want — just get that notion out of your head — but at least this pressing gets the overall sound right. It’s a lot better than 90% of the copies out there.
We stand by those remarks.
If you want a better sounding Layla, one of our famous Hot Stamper copies, you can be sure that one of these days we will do the shootout and again and have something with much better sound to offer.
The price will be many hundreds of dollars though, so for those of you who do not want to spend that kind of money, this is the best sound and vinyl quality we know of at anywhere near the price.
Sonic Grade: D
A Polydor Double LP mastered by Robert Ludwig.
The tonal balance is right on the money, but of course, because this is a compilation, it is made from copies of the master tapes, not real master tapes themselves, so it will always have that blurry, smeary, opaque, airless, sub-generation tape quality to the sound (not unlike most of the Heavy Vinyl we audition).
Sonic Grade: F
Compressed, thick, dull, opaque and completely lacking in ambience, almost any domestic or British original pressing will be better in almost every way. Read our Hot Stamper review below for the full story.
Our Hot Stamper Commentary from 2008
AN EXCEPTIONAL SIDE ONE BACKED WITH GREAT SIDE ONE, both on surprisingly quiet vinyl! We just finished a shootout for this hard-rockin’ debut album and were delighted to hear how good this music can sound on the right pressing. This copy has the kind of bottom end that this music absolutely demands but is sadly missing in action from most of the pressings we played. If your Cream record can’t rock, remind me, what exactly is the point again? (more…)
When you get a good side one of Goodbye you’ll have no trouble hearing why we think it’s one of the Best Sounding Live Rock Albums of all time.
Goodbye has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way live rock music is meant to be heard.
It’s clearly one of BILL HALVERSON‘s Engineering Triumphs, along with Deja Vu and Steve Stills’ first album (now that’s a trio!). Live Rock Music on record just does not sound better than a White Hot Stamper side one of Goodbye. (more…)
The best copies of Layla are Tubey Magical, energetic, and tonally balanced. Most importantly, they sound CORRECT; you get the sense that you are hearing the music exactly as the band intended. The best sounding tracks have presence, clarity, and transparency like you have never heard — that is, unless you’ve gone through a pile of copies the way we do.
We have a special designation for such a pressing. We call it As Good As It Gets. When it finally all comes together for such a famously compromised recording, it’s nothing less than a THRILL. More than anything else, the sound is RIGHT. (more…)
It’s EXCEPTIONALLY difficult to find even decent sounding copies of this album. We’ve played SCORES of original domestic copies, original imports, and all kinds of reissues — trust me, most of them would make you cringe.
When you get a good copy, this music is AWESOME! For ’60s power trio hard rock, you just can’t do much better than the studio material.
White Room, Sitting On Top Of The World, Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign — this is the very essence of Classic Blues Rock. Unfortunately, the typical copy barely hints at the potential of this recording, and the audiophile pressings are even worse. (The DCC Gold CDs are especially bad in our opinion; they sound nothing like the good pressings we’ve played over the years.)
Where’s The Bass?
Most early pressings you find these days are thrashed beyond belief. We used to pick up every clean Plum & Gold label copy we’d find back in he day, but no more. We gave up. The Cream magic was just plain missing from the early domestic pressings. The problem is simple: a glaring lack of bass.
Let’s think about that. Cream is a power trio. The music absolutely demands a solid, weighty bottom end. Sacrifice the bass and the sound is just too lean to rock.
We can sum up the sound of the whomp-less copies in a word: fatiguing. As is always the case, some copies sound better than others, but none could give us the kind of bass that we were hoping for. (more…)