Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Blvd. (Deluxe Edition) (1974 / 2004)

LPFrontCover1Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945) is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and of Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009.

After playing in a number of different local bands, Clapton joined the Yardbirds in 1963, replacing founding guitarist Top Topham. Dissatisfied with the change of the Yardbirds sound from blues rock to a more radio-friendly pop rock sound, Clapton left in 1965 to play with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, with whom he played on one album. After leaving Mayall in 1966, he formed the power trio Cream with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack EricClapton02Bruce, in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop”. After Cream broke up in November 1968, he formed blues rock band Blind Faith with Baker, Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech, recording one album and performing on one tour before they broke up, leading Clapton to embark on a solo career in 1970.

Alongside his solo career, he also performed with Delaney & Bonnie and Derek and the Dominos, with whom he recorded “Layla”, one of his signature songs. He continued to record a number of successful solo albums and songs over the next several decades, including a 1974 cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” (which helped reggae reach a mass market), the country-infused Slowhand album (1977) and the pop rock of 1986’s August. Following the death of his son Conor in 1991, Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”, which appeared on his Unplugged album, and in 1996 he had another top-40 hit with the R&B crossover “Change the World”, and in 1998 released the Grammy award-winning “My Father’s Eyes”. Since 1999, he has recorded a number of traditional blues and blues rock albums and hosted the periodic Crossroads Guitar Festival. His most recent studio album is 2018’s Happy Xmas.

Clapton has received 18 Grammy Awards as well as the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004 he was awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. He has received four Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In his solo career, Clapton has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.

Eric Clapton in April 1974 sitting in front of his rented home at 461 Ocean Boulevard, Miami, Florida:
EricClapton03

461 Ocean Boulevard is the second studio album by English musician Eric Clapton. The album was released in late July 1974 for RSO Records, shortly after the record company released the hit single “I Shot the Sheriff” in early July the same year. The album topped various international charts and sold more than two million copies.

The album was Clapton’s return to the recording studio after a three-year hiatus due to his heroin addiction. The title refers to the address on Ocean Boulevard in Golden Beach, Florida, where Clapton lived while recording the album. Upon completing the album, Clapton and RSO head Robert Stigwood recommended the house and Miami’s Criteria Studios to fellow RSO artists, the Bee Gees, who then moved in to write and record Main Course. The street address of the house was changed after the album’s release due to fans flocking to the property. The house has since been rebuilt and the street address restored.

EricClapton04

A remastered two-disc deluxe edition of the album was released in 2004, which included a live concert recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon and additional studio jam sessions.
g his heroin addiction, Clapton realized that he had wasted three years of his life, stating he had not done anything other than watch television and get out of shape. When Clapton sought help working on a farm, he began to listen to a lot of new music and old blues records he had brought with him and started to play again, even writing whole songs out of simple ideas. With these song ideas in mind, Clapton was given a demo tape by Carl Radle, the former bassist for Derek and the Dominos, with songs performed by Radle with keyboardist Dick Sims and drummer Jamie Oldaker. Clapton liked the recordings, calling them “simply superb”.

Clapton was given time to write new material for a next album by Radle. When Clapton set to work on tracks for the upcoming studio release, he wanted to leave his songs as incomplete as possible, so that the musicians, who were going to record with Clapton in the studio, would get the chance to make them their own. After Clapton appeared in the rock opera Tommy, his manager at the time, Robert Stigwood, contacted him about a new project. Stigwood arranged for Clapton to record at the Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, with Radle, Sims, Oldaker and record producer Tom Dowd. When the time came to record the new album, Clapton was worried about both its commercial and artistic success, noting his concept of a new album would work only when there was chemistry between the musicians. Clapton also hired guest vocalist Yvonne Elliman and guitarist George Terry as full-time members of his group.

Instruments and recording equipment arrayed in the living room for rehearsal at Eric Clapton’s rented home at 461 Ocean Blvd in April1974 in Golden Beach, Florida:
EricClapton05

Stigwood also paid for Clapton to live at a rental house at 461 Ocean Boulevard in the town of Golden Beach near Miami. The whole album was recorded from April to May 1974. For the recording sessions, Clapton used his Blackie Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. For slide guitar work, Clapton used several Gibson ES-335 guitars. He also played vintage Martin acoustic guitars.

According to Ryan Book of Music Times, the music on the album ranges from “bright blues rock” to sentimental ballads like “Let It Grow”, while Robert Christgau said it features “sleepy postjunk funk” with intimations of sex.

LinerNotes01

In his 2007 autobiography My Life, Clapton recalls that he was very pleased with the song’s lyrics and instrumental parts of “Let It Grow”, which he wrote himself. However, music critics and also Clapton noted, that the melody and chord progression is nearly the same as Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. Except for “Let It Grow” and “Get Ready”, a song Clapton wrote with guest vocalist Yvonne Elliman about her, the album consists of various cover versions of titles that had been in Clapton’s head for a long time: “Willie and the Hand Jive”, “Steady Rollin’ Man” and “I Can’t Hold Out”. Clapton first heard the song “Give Me Strength” in London in the 1960s, when he was living with Charlie and Diana Radcliffe on the Fulham Road. He wanted to record the song, because he thought the song would fit to the album’s track listing. While the band recorded the album, George Terry brought the album Burnin’ from Bob Marley and the Wailers to Clapton, stating he really liked the song “I Shot the Sheriff”. He persuaded Clapton to record a version of this tune, which Clapton disliked, because of its “hardcore reggae” melody. Finally, the band convinced Clapton to put the song on the album, noting it would definitely become a hit single. When Clapton met Bob Marley years after his take on the tune was released, Marley told Clapton he really liked the cover.

CDBooklet07+08

The album finishes with George Terry’s “Mainline Florida”, which “breaks away from the established tone of the record” and features Clapton’s using talk box during his outgoing solo.

461 Ocean Boulevard was released in July 1974 on vinyl and compact music cassette in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. RSO Records decided to release the album in territories, where it might chart and sell a lot of copies; it was released in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, in the United Kingdom, in the United States, Uruguay, Yugoslavia and Venezuela. Therefore, it was one of the few pop-music albums to be legally sold in the USSR. Over the years, the album was reissued several times including in 1988, 1996 and 2004 for reunited Europe, also in compact disc format and via digital music download.

CDBooklet11+12

461 Ocean Boulevard is one of Clapton’s most successful commercial releases, reaching the Top 10 in eight countries, and peaking at number one in three territories including Canada[9] and the United States. The album reached the Top 5 in the United Kingdom, peaking at number three. In the Netherlands and Norway, the 1974 studio release reached number four on the national album charts. In Germany and New Zealand, the album reached eleven and thirty-eight respectively. On the 1974 year-end charts, the studio album reached number five on the Canadian RPM chart and in the Netherlands, the album was ranked at number twenty-two. In the United States, the release was certified with a Gold disc for shipment figures of more than 500,000 copies.

CDBooklet10A

Two singles were released; the first, “I Shot the Sheriff”, was released by RSO Records in early July 1974, before the album was released. Clapton’s take on the Marley tune outplayed the original version, reaching the Top 10 single charts in nine countries, becoming Clapton’s only number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2003, Clapton’s version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The single was also Clapton’s first single to sell well internationally, achieving Gold certifications in the United States as well as a double Platinum award in Canada. The second track to be released as a single was “Willie and the Hand Jive”, which came out in October 1974. Clapton slowed down the tempo for his version. Author Chris Welch believes that the song benefits from this “slow burn”. However, Rolling Stone critic Ken Emerson complains that the song sounds “disconcertingly mournful”. Other critics praised Clapton’s confident vocals. Author Marc Roberty claimed that on this song, “Clapton’s vocals had clearly matured, with fluctuations and intonations that were convincing rather than tentative as in the past”. Clapton’s version of the song was released as a single in 1974 and reached number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and position 28 in the Netherlands.

EricClapton06

Reviewing for Creem in September 1974, Robert Christgau said: “As unlikely as it seems, Clapton has taken being laid-back into a new dimension. Perhaps the most brilliant exploration of the metaphorical capacities of country blues ever attempted, way better than Taj Mahal for all of side one. On side two, unfortunately, he goes a little soft. But I’ll settle for two questionable live albums if he’ll give us a solo record as good as this every three years.” He later expanded on this praise in Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981):

By opening the first side with ‘Motherless Children’ and closing it with ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, Clapton puts the rural repose of his laid-back-with-Leon music into a context of deprivation and conflict, adding bite to soft-spoken professions of need and faith that might otherwise smell faintly of the most rural of laid-back commodities, bullshit. And his honesty has its reward: better sex. The casual assurance you can hear now in his singing goes with the hip-twitching syncopation he brings to Robert Johnson’s ‘Steady Rolling Man’ and Elmore James’s ‘I Can’t Hold Out’, and though the covers are what make this record memorable it’s on ‘Get Ready’, written and sung with Yvonne Elliman, that his voice takes on a mellow, seductive intimacy he’s never come close to before.

EricClapton07

In 1974, journalist Ken Emerson at Rolling Stone called Clapton’s guitar work unnotable and criticized Clapton for hiding behind his other musicians, whom Emerson deemed less than capable. Emerson also questioned Clapton’s decision to play a dobro on the album, but called “Let It Grow” a highlight. Emerson considered Clapton’s re-arrangement of “Motherless Children” to be too upbeat for a sombre song.

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls the studio album a “tighter, more focused outing that enables Clapton to stretch out instrumentally” and adds that the “pop concessions on the album [as well as] the sleek production [and] the concise running times don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material”. Finishing his review, Erlewine notes, the 461 Ocean Boulevard “set the template for Clapton’s 1970s albums”. The critic awarded the release four and a half out of five possible stars. For the Blender magazine review of the album’s 2004 deluxe edition, Jon Pareles called the Eric Clapton of the Cream-era superior to the Clapton of the 461 Ocean Boulevard-era, because of what Pareles describes as strained singing on 461 Ocean Boulevard. Pareles also described Clapton’s remake of “I Shot the Sheriff” as a copy with no original arrangement; he also praised the song “Let It Grow”, but criticized it for sounding too much like “Stairway to Heaven”.

EricClapton08

In a retrospective review for Uncut, Nigel Williamson considered that with 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton “rediscovered the primacy of music in his life”. Critic Ryan Book from The Music Times likes the track listing very much and thinks that “the climate comes out in Clapton’s work, ten tracks ranging from bright blues rock to, well, ‘Let It Grow’.” Eduardo Rivadavia at Ultimate Classic Rock calls the release a “watershed solo LP” and notes the popularity of the album, stating it is a “wanted man”. The journalist finished his review by calling 461 Ocean Boulevard the album in which Clapton’s “incomparable talents and this inspired song set were finally captured”.

Rolling Stone placed the album at No. 411 on its 2012 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, commenting that Clapton had “returned from heroin addiction with a disc of mellow, springy grooves minus guitar histrionics”, which “paid tribute to Robert Johnson and Elmore James”. The album was included Robert Dimery’s book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. (wikipedia)

BackCover1

Personnel:
Eric Clapton (guitar, dobro, vocals)
Jamie Oldaker (drums, percussion)
Carl Radle (bass)
Dick Sims (keyboards)
George Terry (guitar, background vocals)
+
background vocals:
Yvonne Elliman (vocals on CD 2 – 03.) – Tom Bernfield  – Marcy Levy (on CD 2 only)
+
Albhy Galuten (piano, synthesizer, clavichord)
Al Jackson Jr. (drums on 02.)

LPBooklet1

Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Motherless Children (Traditional) 4.46
02. Give Me Strength (Clapton) 2.52
03. Willie And The Hand Jive (Otis) 3.30
04. Get Ready (Clapton/Elliman) 3.48
05. I Shot The Sheriff (Marley) 4.24
06. I Can’t Hold Out (James) 4.12
07. Please Be With Me (Boyer) 3.27
08. Let It Grow (Clapton) 4.58
09. Steady Rollin’ Man (Johnson) 3.13
10. Mainline Florida (Terry) 4.05
+
Session Out-Takes:
11. Walkin’ Down The Road (Lonesome Raod Blues) (Musgrave/Levine) 5.15
12. Ain’t That Loving You (Reed) 5.28
13. Meet Me (Down At The Bottom) (Dixon) 6.57
14. Eric After Hours Blues (Clapton) 4.21
15. B Minor Jam (Clapton) 7.11

CD 2: (Live from the Hammersmith Odeon, London. December 4th and 5th, 1974)
01. Smile (Chaplin/Parsons/Turner) 4.40
02. Let It Grow (Clapton) 6.24
03. Can’t Find My Way Home (Winwood) 4.49
04. I Shot The Sheriff (Marley) 7.50
05. Tell The Truth (Clapton/Whitlock) 7.03
06. The Sky Is Crying James) / Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Myles) / Rambling On My Mind (Johnson) 7.24
07. Little Wing (Hendrix) 6.50
08. Singin’ The Blues (Robey/Veasey) 7.43
09. Badge (Clapton/Harrison) 8.36
10. Layla (Clapton/Gordon) 5.27
11. Let It Rain (Clapton/Bramlett) 6.34

LabelB1

*
**

More from Eric Clapton:
More

Carl Dean Radle (June 18, 1942 – May 30, 1980) was an American bassist who toured and recorded with many of the most influential recording artists of the late 1960s and 1970s. He was posthumously inducted to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

Carl Radle01

Radle was best known for his long association with Eric Clapton, starting in 1969 with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends and continuing in 1970 with Derek and the Dominos, recording with drummer Jim Gordon, guitarist Duane Allman, and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock. In 1970 Radle joined Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. He worked on all of Clapton’s solo projects from 1970 until 1979 and was a member of Clapton’s touring band, Eric Clapton & His Band, from 1974 to 1979. Radle was instrumental in facilitating Clapton’s return to recording and touring in 1974. During Clapton’s three-year hiatus, Radle furnished him with a supply of tapes of musicians with whom he had been working. Dick Sims and Jamie Oldaker were the core of Clapton’s band during the 1970s. Radle served as more than a sideman, acting also as arranger on several songs, notably “Motherless Children”. Radle earned credit as an associate producer of Clapton’s album No Reason to Cry.

Carl Radle02

Radle was a session musician for many of the most famous blues rock and rock and roll artists in the 1970s, including Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson. He appeared in the film The Concert for Bangladesh; recordings from that concert were released as an album in 1972. Over the two-year period before the release of the album The Concert for Bangladesh, Radle recorded albums with Dave Mason, J.J. Cale, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, and Buddy Guy, among others. He was the bass player in Gary Lewis & the Playboys when they appeared on the Mike Douglas Show. He can be seen in Martin Scorsese’s 1978 film The Last Waltz, which documented the final concert of The Band, held in 1976.

Over the course of his career, Radle played on a number of gold and platinum singles and albums and garnered the respect of many musicians. His bass lines were often simple and repetitive, but always with the purpose of supporting the song.

Radle was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and died at his home in Claremore in May 1980 from the effects of alcohol and narcotics; he was 37. (wikipedia)

Carl Radle03