461 Ocean Boulevard is the second solo studio album by English musician Eric Clapton. It was released in late July 1974 by RSO Records, after the record company released the hit single "I Shot the Sheriff" earlier in the month. The album topped various international charts and sold more than two million copies.

461 Ocean Boulevard
A house is shown along with a palm tree, on the right Eric Clapton holds his hands smiling, above him is the title and logo along with some trees
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 1974 (1974-07)
RecordedApril–May 1974
StudioCriteria (Miami)
ProducerTom Dowd
Eric Clapton chronology
Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert
461 Ocean Boulevard
There's One in Every Crowd
Singles from 461 Ocean Boulevard
  1. "I Shot the Sheriff"
    Released: July 1974
  2. "Willie and the Hand Jive"
    Released: October 1974

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.[1] The street address of the house was changed after the album's release.

A remastered two-disc deluxe edition of the album was released in 2004, which included selections from two live shows at the Hammersmith Odeon, and additional studio jam sessions.

Production edit

After overcoming 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.[2]

Stigwood also paid for Clapton to live at a rental house at 461 Ocean Boulevard in the town of Golden Beach near Miami.[3] The whole album was recorded from April to May 1974. For the recording sessions, Clapton used his Blackie Fender Stratocaster electric guitar.[2] For slide guitar work, Clapton used several Gibson ES-335 guitars. He also played vintage Martin acoustic guitars.[4]

Music and lyrics edit

Ryan Book of Music Times felt the music on the album ranges from "bright blues rock" to sentimental ballads like "Let It Grow",[5] and Robert Christgau said it features "sleepy postjunk funk" with intimations of sex.[6]

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 had written himself, although 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 had first heard the song "Give Me Strength" in London in the 1960s, when he had been living with Charlie and Diana Radcliffe on Fulham Road. He wanted to record the song, as he thought it would be a good fit for the album. While the band was recording, George Terry brought the album Burnin' from Bob Marley and the Wailers to Clapton's attention, 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.[2]

The album finishes with George Terry's "Mainline Florida", which "breaks away from the established tone of the record" and features Clapton using a talk box.[5]

Marketing and sales edit

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,[7] 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.[8]

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.[10] The album reached the Top 5 in the United Kingdom, peaking at number three.[11] In the Netherlands and Norway, the 1974 studio release reached number four[12] on the national album charts.[13] In Germany and New Zealand, the album reached eleven[14] and thirty-eight respectively.[15] On the 1974 year-end charts, the studio album reached number five on the Canadian RPM chart[16] and in the Netherlands, the album was ranked at number twenty-two.[17] In the United States, the release was certified with a Gold disc for shipment figures of more than 500,000 copies.

Two singles were released; the first, "I Shot the Sheriff", was released by RSO Records in early July 1974, before the album was released.[2] 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.[18] In 2003, Clapton's version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[19] The single was also Clapton's first single to sell well internationally, achieving Gold certifications in the United States[20] as well as a double Platinum award in Canada.[21] The second track to be released as a single was "Willie and the Hand Jive", which came out in October 1974.[22] Clapton slowed down the tempo for his version. Author Chris Welch believes that the song benefits from this "slow burn".[23] However, Rolling Stone critic Ken Emerson complains that the song sounds "disconcertingly mournful".[24] Other critics praised Clapton's confident vocals.[25] 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".[26] Clapton's version of the song was released as a single in 1974 and reached number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100[18] and position 28 in the Netherlands.[27]

Critical reception and legacy edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [28]
Chicago Tribune    [29]
Christgau's Record GuideA[30]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [32]
MusicHound Rock3.5/5[33]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [34]
Uncut     [35]
Tom HullC[36]

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."[31] 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.[30]

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.[24]

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.[28] 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".[37]

In a retrospective review for Uncut, Nigel Williamson considered that with 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton "rediscovered the primacy of music in his life".[35] 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'."[5] 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".[38]

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".[39] The album was included Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[40]

Track listing edit

461 Ocean BoulevardSide 1[41]
1."Motherless Children"Traditional (Arranged by Eric Clapton · Carl Radle)4:55
2."Give Me Strength"Eric Clapton2:51
3."Willie and the Hand Jive"Johnny Otis3:31
4."Get Ready"Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman3:50
5."I Shot the Sheriff"Bob Marley4:30
461 Ocean BoulevardSide 2[41]
1."I Can't Hold Out"Willie Dixon (original album credit: "By Elmore James, Arranged by Eric Clapton")4:10
2."Please Be with Me"Charles Scott Boyer3:25
3."Let It Grow"Eric Clapton5:00
4."Steady Rollin' Man"Robert Johnson (Arranged by Eric Clapton)3:14
5."Mainline Florida"George Terry4:05
461 Ocean BoulevardOriginal compact disc release[42]
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 Clapton4:07
3."Willie and the Hand Jive"Johnny Otis3:31
4."Get Ready"Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman3:47
5."I Shot the Sheriff"Bob Marley4:25
6."I Can't Hold Out"Elmore James4:14
7."Please Be With Me"Charles Scott Boyer3:26
8."Let It Grow"Eric Clapton5:00
9."Steady Rollin' Man"Robert Johnson3:14
10."Mainline Florida"George Terry4:09
11."Give Me Strength"Louise King Mathews2:54
461 Ocean Boulevard Deluxe Edition (2004) — Disc 1[43]
1."Motherless Children"Traditional (Arrangement by Eric Clapton · Carl Radle)4:55
2."Give Me Strength"Eric Clapton2:54
3."Willie and the Hand Jive"Johnny Otis3:31
4."Get Ready"Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman3:47
5."I Shot the Sheriff"Bob Marley4:25
6."I Can't Hold Out"Elmore James4:14
7."Please Be With Me"Charles Scott Boyer3:26
8."Let It Grow"Eric Clapton5:00
9."Steady Rollin' Man"Robert Johnson3:14
10."Mainline Florida"George Terry4:09
11."Walkin' Down the Road (Session Out-Take)"Alan Musgrave · Paul Levine5:17
12."Ain't That Loving You (Session Out-Take)"Jimmy Reed5:30
13."Meet Me (Down at the Bottom) (Session Out-Take)"Willie Dixon6:59
14."Eric After Hours Blues (Session Out-Take)"Eric Clapton4:23
15."B Minor Jam (Session Out-Take)"Eric Clapton7:11
461 Ocean Boulevard Deluxe Edition (2004) — Disc 2[43] Live From the Hammersmith Odeon, London. December 4th and 5th, 1974
1."Smile"Charlie Chaplin · Geoffrey Parsons · John Turner4:39
2."Let It Grow"Eric Clapton6:23
3."Can't Find My Way Home"Steve Winwood4:49
4."I Shot the Sheriff"Bob Marley7:49
5."Tell the Truth"Eric Clapton · Bobby Whitlock7:03
6."The Sky Is Crying / Have You Ever Loved a Woman / Rambling on My Mind"Elmore James · Billy Myles · Robert Johnson7:23
7."Little Wing"Jimi Hendrix6:49
8."Singin' the Blues"Don Robey · Joe Medwick Veasey7:42
9."Badge"Eric Clapton · George Harrison8:36
10."Layla"Eric Clapton · Jim Gordon5:26
11."Let It Rain"Eric Clapton · Bonnie Bramlett6:33

Personnel edit

Production edit

  • Tom Dowd – producer
  • Bill Levenson – compilation producer on Deluxe Edition
  • Ron Fawcus – engineer
  • Andy Knight – engineer
  • Karl Richardson – engineer
  • Suha Gur – mastering
  • Darcy Proper – mastering at Sterling Sound (New York, NY).
  • Bob Defrin – art direction, design
  • David Gahr – photography
  • Ryan Null – photo coordination

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[49] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References edit

  1. ^ Hughes, Andrew (2009). The Bee Gees - Tales of the Brothers Gibb. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857120045. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Clapton, Eric (2007). "461 Ocean Boulevard". Clapton: The Autobiography (1st ed.). United States: Broadway Books. ISBN 978-0-385-51851-2.
  3. ^ Sokol, Brett (9 December 2004). "Musical Mecca: After 30 years, they still flock to that most fabled of oceanfront homes". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  4. ^ Roberty, Marc (14 May 2013). Eric Clapton – Day by Day: The Early Years 1963–1982 (Day-by-Day Series) (1st ed.). Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1617130526.
  5. ^ a b c Book, Ryan (17 August 2014). "40 Years of '461 Ocean Boulevard': Music Times Looks Back and Ranks Eric Clapton's Classic Record". Music Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (4 November 1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard – Argentia". Eil.com. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard – Master Release". Discogs. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b "RPM – Item Display: Top Albums/CDs – Volume 22, No. 2, August 31, 1974". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Eric Clapton – Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  11. ^ a b "British Albums Chart Position for "461 Ocean Boulevard"". Ultimate Music Database. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Norwegiancharts.com – Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Offiziellecharts.de – Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Charts.nz – Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  16. ^ a b "RPM – Item Display: Top Albums/CDs – Volume 22, No. 19, December, 28 1974". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  17. ^ a b "Jaaroverzichten 1974 (Album)". GfK Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Steffen Hung – Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  18. ^ a b "461 Ocean Boulevard Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  19. ^ "GRAMMY Hall of Fame". Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  20. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  21. ^ Schmidt, Alan (1993). The Canadian Book of Singles. Montreal.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  22. ^ "Eric Clapton – Willie and the Hand Jive – austriancharts.at". Ö3 Austria (in German). Steffen Hung – Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  23. ^ Welch, C. (2011). Clapton: The Ultimate Illustrated History. Voyageur Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-7603-4046-2.
  24. ^ a b Emerson, Ken. "Album Reviews – 461 Ocean Boulevard by Eric Clapton". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  25. ^ Schumacher, M. (2003). Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. Citadel Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-8065-2466-5.
  26. ^ Roberty, M. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Eric Clapton. Omnibus Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-7119-4305-2.
  27. ^ "Eric Clapton – Willie and the Hand Jive – dutchcharts.nl". Steffen Hung – Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  28. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "461 Ocean Boulevard – Eric Clapton". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  29. ^ Kot, Greg (21 February 1993). "It's A Roller-coaster Career From Blues To Pop And Back". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  30. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Eric Clapton". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. p. 82. ISBN 0-89919-025-1. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  31. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 1974). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  32. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  33. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel, eds. (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 238. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  34. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Eric Clapton". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743201698.
  35. ^ a b Williamson, Nigel (1 December 2004). "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard – Uncut". uncut.co.uk. Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  36. ^ Hull, Tom (April 1975). "The Rekord Report: First Card". Overdose. Retrieved 26 June 2020 – via tomhull.com.
  37. ^ Pareles, Jon (1 November 2004). "Review: Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard (Deluxe Edition)". Blender.com. Alpha Media Group. Retrieved 7 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
  38. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (27 July 2014). "40 Years Ago: Eric Clapton Releases '461 Ocean Boulevard'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Diffuser Network. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  39. ^ "500 Greatest Albums: 461 Ocean Boulevard – Eric Clapton". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  40. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  41. ^ a b "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  42. ^ "461 Ocean Boulevard". Where's Eric! The Eric Clapton Fan Club Magazine. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  43. ^ a b Small, Barry. "461 Ocean Blvd". The Best of... Website. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  44. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  45. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2021). "Eric Clapton". Sisältää hitin - 2. laitos Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla 1.1.1960–30.6.2021 (PDF) (in Finnish). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 48.
  46. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 426. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  47. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. 1974. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  48. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1974". Billboard. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  49. ^ "American album certifications – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links edit