EC finds redemption in the healing power of music
Mike | San Jose, CA | 10/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No need to give an extensive recap of the story here...Pete Townshend arranged the Rainbow "comeback" concert (Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert) as post-heroin addiction therapy for Eric. The show...while it is to be applauded for the effort...is sloppy and tentative, as you might expect it to be under the circumstances. That said, "461 Ocean Boulevard" was the true "comeback" album for Clapton.
It's more laid back than fans of Cream, Derek & The Dominos, or even Clapton's first solo album (Eric Clapton) might expect. The late Carl Radle is on hand from the Dominos, as is Yvonne "Jesus Christ Superstar" Elliman on vocals. The remainder of the core band, which is bolstered by the presence of guest musicians, is Dick Sims on keyboards, George Terry on guitar & background vocals, and Jamie Oldaker on drums.
For "Phase I" of Clapton's comeback, this is the strongest overall effort by far. Fans are already familiar with the "Cream Killer" story...Clapton read a review in Rolling Stone about a Cream concert which slammed the band for its endless and aimless noodling, which caused him to seek inspiration elsewhere (notably in The Band's Music from Big Pink, by virtue of its success via song-based, rather than jam-based, music).
On the original release, the winning songs were "Please Be With Me" by Tommy Talton of Cowboy (which also appears in a wonderful, heartfelt, amazing version on Tish Hinojosa's album Taos to Tennessee), "Let It Grow" (strong on harmony vocals and a dynamic fade-out). There is debate over Clapton's "I Shot The Sheriff," but as a Bob Marley fan, let's give credit where credit is due. Bob showed up frequently on American FM radio airwaves after the release of Clapton's song. Just as Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones covered American music and put it in the hands of the American record-buying public, Clapton exposed Bob to a wider audience. No apologies are needed or offered.
You also get the requisite Robert Johnson track, "Steady Rollin' Man," and "I Can't Hold Out" by Elmore James. From there, it's a matter of personal preference.
EC's next couple of albums would be universally slammed in the rock press for being too laid back and lifeless. It wasn't until No Reason to Cry that he entered the second and more dynamic phase of his solo career, joined by Bob Dylan, Ronnie Wood, and members of The Band.
"461 Ocean Boulevard" is an essential chapter in the story of a musician who became a leader by following. Clapton has remained true to his roots, has shared the spotlight with his heroes and influences, and will always have my respect and admiration for doing so.
EAT ANOTHER PEACH ;)
JON STRICKLAND | Smithfield, NC United States | 12/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just as Songs in the Key of Life is perhaps, several years after the fact, a monumental classic that Stevie Wonder has not yet been able to equal in his subsequent recordings, the same can be said for 461 Ocean Boulevard relative to the latter forthcomings of none other than the immortal blues guitarist, Mr. Eric Clapton.
Released in 1974, 461 Ocean Boulevard was an unparalleled landmark album in its own right. Thanks to the inclusion of the number one hit cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", it is possibly the primary catalyst to the never-before-witnessed international stage of multiplatinum-selling reggae artists, the first and most famous being Mr. Marley himself. Also, it is arguably the release that not only recharged but also supercharged a career that, with a future in doubt as a result of prior drug addictions and band dissolutions, especially Derek and the Dominos, would turn out to be prolific and enduring.
Other tracks include the great introduction, "Motherless Children", with Clapton's trademark guitar work as well as the top 40 "Willie and the Hand Jive". Also contained is the staple "Let It Grow". Throughout the release is the presence of a backing vocalist who would attain stardom some three years later with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack release. Who is this person? It is none other than Yvonne Elliman, who would have her only number one hit with the Bee Gees' "If I Can't Have You".
In sum, questions likely had arisen prior to 1974 as to whether there would even be several Clapton projects ahead, what with the untimely deaths of close friends and fellow guitar greats, Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman. Fortunately, Clapton is still around. Though his works from the mid-1970s onward, from an artistic standpoint, might not quite match the masterpiece that is 461 Ocean Boulevard, his decisions to kick the drug habits and to maintain his legacy as a performer who continues to inspire present and future artists are personal triumphs that are far more important than any one particular work of art.
Derek Irving | Panama | 03/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my favorite Eric Clapton Recording. Beautifull music and really great guitar. This is another stage of Clapton music. Soft, simple and tasteful."