461 Ocean Boulevard
|461 Ocean Boulevard|
|Studio album by Eric Clapton|
|Studio||Criteria Studios (Miami, FL)|
|Genre||Rock · blues rock · reggae|
|Eric Clapton chronology|
|Singles from 461 Ocean Boulevard|
461 Ocean Boulevard is the second studio album released by the British rock musician Eric Clapton. The album was released in late July of 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 title comes after a rental house, in which Clapton lived while recording the album on 461 Ocean Boulevard in the town of Golden Beach, Florida. The number in the address of the house has since changed due to fans flocking to the property after the album's release. The album topped various international charts and sold more than two million copies. It was also one of the first "pop music" albums to be released in the USSR. The album marked Clapton's return to form after battling with his three-year heroin addiction. In 2004, a remastered two-disc deluxe edition of the album was released, also featuring a live concert recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon and additional studio jam sessions.
Background and recording
After overcoming his heroin addiction, Clapton realized that he wasted three years of his life, stating he did not do anything else than watching the television and getting out of shape. When Clapton sought help working on a farm, he then started to listen to a lot of new music and old Blues songs he 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 the British rock musician appeared in the rock opera Tommy, his manager at the time, Robert Stigwood got into contact with Clapton about a new project. Stigwood arranged for Clapton to recorded at the Criteria Studios in Miamo, Florida with Radle, Sims, Oldacker and record producer Tom Dowd. When it came time to record the new album, Clapton was worried about both the commercial and artistic success of the album, noting his concept of a new album would only work when the chemistry between the musician worked. Clapton also hired guest vocalist Yvonne Elliman and guitarist George Terry as full-time members of his group. Stigwood also paid for Eric to live at a rental house at the address 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, the British rock musician used several Gibson ES-335 guitars. He also played vintage, pre-1970s acoustic guitars, manufactured by Martin.
Excerpt of the album's number one hit single "I Shot the Sheriff".
The blues rock tune "Mainline Florida" was written by George Terry for the album.
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According to AllMusic, the studio album belongs to the musical genres of pop, reggae and rock music in the variety of styles including album rock, hard rock, contemporary pop and rock, adult contemporary music as well as blues rock. The tunes "Motherless Children", "I Can't Hold Out", "Steady Rollin' Man" and "Mainline Florida" are the rock and blues rock songs from the album, where as "Give Me Strength", "Please Be With Me" and "Let It Grow" more of the adult contemporary music songs of the album are. The other tracks on 461 Ocean Boulevard including "Willie and the Hand Jive", "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Get Ready" seem to be more of the reggae tunes. In his 2007 autobiography My Life, Clapton remembers 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 back in the 1960s, when he was living in the city with Charlie and Diana Radcliffe in Fulham Road. He wanted to record the song, because Clapton 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.
Two singles were released of 461 Ocean Boulevard. 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 Japan and 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 of 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.
|Christgau's Record Guide||A|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Writing 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". Robert Christgau wrote in a contemporary review for Creem: "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." In a retrospective review, he wrote:
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.
In another retrospective review for Uncut, Nigel Williamson finds, that with 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton "rediscovered the primacy of music in his life". Critic Ryan Book from The Music Times likes the tracklisting very much and thinks that out of this studio album "climate comes out in Clapton's work ten tracks ranging from bright". 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, calling the 461 Ocean Boulevard the album, in which Clapton's "incomparable talents and this inspired song set were finally captured". 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 also considered Clapton's re-arrangement of "Motherless Children" to be too upbeat for a somber song. Despite Emerson's unfavorable 1974 review, Rolling Stone placed the album at #409 on its 2012 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, showing its change of heart when it lauded Clapton's return from heroin addiction "with [this] disc of mellow, springy grooves minus guitar histrionics" as well as Clapton's paying tribute to Robert Johnson and Elmore James.
|461 Ocean Boulevard — Side 1|
|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|
|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||4:47|
|4.||"Steady Rollin' Man"||Robert Johnson||3:14|
|5.||"Mainline Florida"||George Terry||4:05|
|461 Ocean Boulevard — Original compact disc release|
|1.||"Motherless Children"||Traditional (Arrangement by Eric Clapton · Carl Radle)||4:55|
|2.||"Better Make It Through Today" (from There's One in Every Crowd)||Eric Clapton||4:07|
|3.||"Willie and the Hand Jive"||Johnny Otis||3:31|
|4.||"Get Ready"||Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman||3:47|
|5.||"I Shot the Sheriff"||Bob Marley||4:25|
|6.||"I Can't Hold Out"||Elmore James||4:14|
|7.||"Please Be With Me"||Charles Scott Boyer||3:26|
|8.||"Let It Grow"||Eric Clapton||5:00|
|9.||"Steady Rollin' Man"||Robert Johnson||3:14|
|10.||"Mainline Florida"||George Terry||4:09|
|11.||"Give Me Strength"||Louise King Mathews||2:54|
|461 Ocean Boulevard Deluxe Edition — Disc 1|
|1.||"Motherless Children"||Traditional (Arrangement by Eric Clapton · Carl Radle)|
|2.||"Give Me Strength"||Louise King Mathews|
|3.||"Willie and the Hand Jive"||Johnny Otis|
|4.||"Get Ready"||Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman|
|5.||"I Shot the Sheriff"||Bob Marley|
|6.||"I Can't Hold Out"||Elmore James|
|7.||"Please Be With Me"||Charles Scott Boyer|
|8.||"Let It Grow"||Eric Clapton|
|9.||"Steady Rollin' Man"||Robert Johnson|
|10.||"Mainline Florida"||George Terry|
|11.||"Walkin' Down the Road"||Alan Musgrave · Paul Levine|
|12.||"Ain't That Loving You"||Jimmy Reed|
|13.||"Meet Me (Down at the Bottom)"||Willie Dixon|
|14.||"Eric After Hours Blues"||Eric Clapton|
|15.||"B Minor Jam"||Eric Clapton|
|461 Ocean Boulevard Deluxe Edition — Disc 2|
|1.||"Smile"||Charlie Chaplin · Geoffrey Parsons · John Turner||4:39|
|2.||"Let It Grow"||Eric Clapton||6:23|
|3.||"Can't Find My Way Home"||Steve Winwood||4:49|
|4.||"I Shot the Sheriff"||Bob Marley||7:49|
|5.||"Tell the Truth"||Eric Clapton · Bobby Whitlock||7:03|
|6.||"The Sky Is Crying / Have You Ever Loved a Woman / Rambling on My Mind"||Elmore James · Billy Myles · Robert Johnson||7:23|
|7.||"Little Wing"||Jimi Hendrix||6:49|
|8.||"Singin' the Blues"||Don Robey · Joe Medwick Veasey||7:42|
|9.||"Badge"||Eric Clapton · George Harrison||8:36|
|10.||"Layla"||Eric Clapton · Jim Gordon||5:26|
|11.||"Let It Rain"||Eric Clapton · Bonnie Bramlett||6:33|
461 Ocean Boulevard was first released on grammophone record (vinyl) and compact music cassette. In July of 1974, when the album came out the first time. It was released in many countries of North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia as well as 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, 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 so called pop music albums to be legally sold in the USSR. Over the years, the studio album was reissued several times including in 1988, 1996 and 2004 for the reunited Europe, also in compact disc format and via digital music download.
The album itself is one of Clapton's more commercial successful releases, reaching the Top ten in eight countries. It also peaked at number one in three territories including Canada, the United States and Denmark. 461 Ocean Boulevard also reached the Top five in Yugoslavia, reaching number two and peakng at number three in the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands and Norway, the 1974 studio release placed itself on number four on the national album charts. In Japan, the album reached number eight on the Oricon album chart. In Germany and New Zealand, 461 Ocean Boulevard ranked on places eleven and thirty-eight. On the 1974 year-end charts, the studio album reached number five on the Canadian RPM chart and positioned itself on number fifteen in Norway. In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the album ranked on number twenty-two and twenty-three. On the Yugoslavian albums chart, the album ranked itself on place twenty-five. In both Germany and Japan, the album reached number 51 on the end of the year albums chart compilation. In Australia, the album peaked at number two and reached position eighteen on the year-end chart of 1974. In 1975, the album reached the next year-end chart in Norway peaking at number 71. While on chart in Japan, the album sold more than 97,000 copies. It was later certified with a Gold disc for sales more than 100,000 copies in the country. The album was also certified with other award commemorating outstanding sales figures; for example in Australia, 461 Ocean Boulevard was awarded a double Gold award for sales of more than 70,000 units. In the United States, the release was also certified with a Gold disc for shipment figures of more than 500,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, Clapton was presented with a triple Platinum disc for sales of more than 900,000 copies in the country before 1994 alone and was presented with another Gold sales award for the sale of more than 100,000 copies after 1994. He also got a Platinum presentation by Nielsen SoundScan for sales exceeding one million copies in Great Britain alone. In Canada, Denmark, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macao the release was also certified Gold. In the Netherlands and Norway, 461 Ocean Boulevard was presented with a Platinum award. In total, the album sold more than 2,022,500 copies worldwide.
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Gold||70,000^|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||Gold||25,000^|
|Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)||Gold||10,000*|
|Macao (IFPI Macao)||Gold||15,000*|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Platinum||50,000*|
|Peru (IFPI Peru)||Gold||10,000*|
|South Korea (RIAK)||Gold||50,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||3× Platinum + Gold||1,000,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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