ARTIST: Eric Clapton
TITLE: 461 Ocean Boulevard
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #3 UK
SINGLES: I Shot the Sheriff (#1 US, #9 UK), Willie and the Hand Jive (#26 US).
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let It Grow, Motherless Children.
LINEUP: Eric Clapton, Yvonne Ellman, Dick Sims, George Terry, Carl Radle, Jamie Oldaker, Albhy Galuten, Marcy Levy. Al Jackson, Jr. drummed on one cut.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A triumphant comeback from addiction, and some of the best ensemble playing of Clapton’s career.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Fat and addicted to heroin was no way for a guitar legend to go through life, so Clapton got clean and then got the itch to play again. However, instead of being the guitar hero everyone expected, he wanted to create more of an ensemble and wanted to play with musicians who he knew and could work well together.
“Motherless Children” kicks this off on a high note, but most of the album has a nice, laid back groove with some great playing by Clapton in the context of his band. Most everyone knows his cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” from this album, but the album’s highlight is “Let It Grow”, a fantastic mellow blues.
At times, Clapton cedes too much to his band, but it’s his finest solo record and ranks up there with the best stuff by Cream and Derek & the Dominoes.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Carl Radle was the impetuous behind the sessions. He gave Clapton a tape of he, Dick Sims and Terry Oldaker playing and Clapton thought he definitely could work in that context.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Five outtakes and some live cuts
GRADE: A-: A welcome comeback, and an album that established Clapton as a great ensemble guitarist, not just a great soloist.