Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Blvd (1974)

AllMusic Review: 461 Ocean Boulevard is Eric Clapton’s second studio solo album, arriving after his side project of Derek and the Dominos and a long struggle with heroin addiction. Although there are some new reggae influences, the album doesn’t sound all that different from the rock, pop, blues, country, and R&B amalgam of Eric Clapton. However, 461 Ocean Boulevard is a tighter, more focused outing that enables Clapton to stretch out instrumentally. Furthermore, the pop concessions on the album — the sleek production, the concise running times — don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the traditional blues “Motherless Children,” Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” or Clapton’s emotional original “Let It Grow.” With its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and strong bluesy roots, 461 Ocean Boulevard set the template for Clapton’s ’70s albums. Though he tried hard to make an album exactly like it, he never quite managed to replicate its charms. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

461 Ocean Boulevard — Side 1
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Motherless Children” Traditional (arrangement by Eric Clapton · Carl Radle) 4:55
2. “Give Me Strength” Eric Clapton 2:51
3. “Willie and the Hand Jive” Johnny Otis 3:31
4. “Get Ready” Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman 3:50
5. “I Shot the Sheriff” Bob Marley 4:30
461 Ocean Boulevard — Side 2
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “I Can’t Hold Out” Elmore James 4:10
2. “Please Be with Me” Charles Scott Boyer 3:25
3. “Let It Grow” Eric Clapton 5:00
4. “Steady Rollin’ Man” Robert Johnson 3:14
5. “Mainline Florida” George Terry 4:05

 

 

Schill Score:  8.75/10

 

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John Mayall’s Blues Breakers – Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton (1966)

Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, colloquially known as The Beano Album, is a studio album by the English blues rock band John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Produced by Mike Vernon and released in 1966 by Decca Records (UK) and London Records (US), it pioneered a guitar-dominated blues-rock sound.

The album was commercially successful and most critics viewed it positively. In 2003 and 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it number 195 on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

The album consists of blues standards by well-known artists, such as Otis Rush, Freddie King and Robert Johnson, as well as a few originals penned by Mayall and Clapton. Most tracks serve as a showcase for Clapton’s playing. Although he provided some co- and backing vocals with his former group, the Yardbirds, “Ramblin’ on My Mind” is Clapton’s first solo lead vocal to be recorded.

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “All Your Love” Otis Rush 3:33
2. “Hideaway” (instrumental) Freddie King, Sonny Thompson 3:15
3. “Little Girl” Mayall 2:35
4. “Another Man” Mayall 1:45
5. “Double Crossing Time” Eric Clapton, Mayall 3:02
6. “What’d I Say” Ray Charles 4:25

Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Key to Love” Mayall 2:06
2. “Parchman Farm” Mose Allison 2:20
3. “Have You Heard” Mayall 5:55
4. “Ramblin’ On My Mind” (Clapton on vocals) Robert Johnson 3:07
5. “Steppin’ Out” (instrumental) L.C. Fraiser a.k.a. Memphis Slim 2:30
6. “It Ain’t Right” Walter Jacobs a.k.a. Little Walter 2:40

Review: Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton was Eric Clapton’s first fully realized album as a blues guitarist — more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Standing midway between Clapton’s stint with the Yardbirds and the formation of Cream, this album featured the new guitar hero on a series of stripped-down blues standards, Mayall pieces, and one Mayall/Clapton composition, all of which had him stretching out in the idiom for the first time in the studio. This album was the culmination of a very successful year of playing with John Mayall, a fully realized blues creation, featuring sounds very close to the group’s stage performances, and with no compromises. Credit has to go to producer Mike Vernon for the purity and simplicity of the record; most British producers of that era wouldn’t have been able to get it recorded this way, much less released. One can hear the very direct influence of Buddy Guy and a handful of other American bluesmen in the playing. And lest anyone forget the rest of the quartet: future pop/rock superstar John McVie and drummer Hughie Flint provide a rock-hard rhythm section, and Mayall’s organ playing, vocalizing, and second guitar are all of a piece with Clapton’s work. His guitar naturally dominates most of this record, and he can also be heard taking his first lead vocal, but McVie and Flint are just as intense and give the tracks an extra level of steel-strung tension and power, none of which have diminished across several decades. — Bruce Eder

Schill Score: 8.5/10

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