- Album name: 461 Ocean Boulevard
- Artist name: Eric Clapton
- Year: 1974
- Number of discs: one
- Label: RSO Records
- Collection: Essex
- Distinguishing characteristics: clipped top right corner
- Buy it on Amazon: $32.47
Level of familiarity before listening
I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to this record before, but I don’t think I have. It’s the first Eric Clapton solo record that I’m reviewing, but he has also been on:
- Fresh Cream (1967): 5/5
- Disraeli Gears (1967): 5/5
- An Anthology of British Blues (1968): 5/5
- An Anthology of British Blues, Volume 2 (1968): 5/5
- Blind Faith (1969): 4/5
- On Tour with Eric Clapton by Delaney & Bonnie (1970): 5/5
- The Concert For Bangla Desh (1971): 3/5
What I expected
I want to believe that this is going to rock, but I recognize that it’s beach-themed and also represents the time in Clapton’s life when he was covering Bob Marley, so I don’t think I can expect very much.
What it was actually like
Some of these songs were very much in the style of Eric Clapton up to around 1970. Motherless Children, for example, was a blues classic that absolutely rocked, starting with a powerful electric guitar that proceeded for a while before any vocals. When the singing did commence, it wasn’t that good, but I loved the rapid drumming with a bit of organ in the background, and felt that Clapton turned it into an awesome rock song with a fantastic riff.
Mainline Florida was another electric blues song that was great, but with bad singing, and his electric version of the classic blues song I Can’t Hold Out was quite good, but the Son Seals version blew it out of the water.
Then there were several songs of filler crap: the easy listening Give Me Strength, and Please Be with Me, a boring folk rock that might have been good if he had played it three times faster.
Of the three reggae-type songs, Get Ready was the worst because it really didn’t want to be a reggae song at all, and had to be squeezed into that format. Willie and the Hand Jive was a little bit better, because there was so much for Clapton to do musically with its Bo Diddley beat, but the vocals were absysmal (the New Riders of the Purple Sage version was far superior, and as I wrote then, “Eric Clapton should have just copied what NRPS did”).
And while of course I Shot the Sheriff is a rather silly song in the first place, as starting material it gave Clapton the biggest opportunity for success, which worked out well, as he did make it into the best reggae song on the record – but it was also clear that it had the most attention in the studio, as all of its elements were much better produced.
His cover of Robert Johnson’s Steady Rollin’ Man sounded very funk to me and I thought it was great, and on this record of strange songs and strange combinations of songs, perhaps the strangest altogether was Let It Grow. I had a hard time placing it musically because it was rock, and not blues or reggae, and did have electric guitar, and reminded me a bit of… I wasn’t sure what… but could it have been Pearls Before Swine?
4/5: would listen again