Although this is not the first Eric Clapton solo album, it is a really excellent listen. Everything from the album title and artwork to the sound of the songs is well done here. For a great musical slice of rock history, let’s dive in, and see how it sounds.
We kick off with Motherless Children with its neat arpeggio style riffage which is excellently played by Eric Clapton. Shortly afterwards, slide guitars enter the mix. Clapton begins singing in a mellow sort of voice. The whole piece is very 1970s, but also has aged extremely well. It’s a blues rock romp for your ears. A great start to the album, and has a very much almost hard rock feel to it. A joyous romp. The outro is terrific, with some loose melodies and beats being played.
Next is the laidback groove of Give Me Strength which has some pronounced and superbly played slide guitars. Eric Clapton here sounds as though he has an excellent idea of how music should sound in all aspects. It’s a prayer to God in a musical sense. No doubt Clapton needed some strength after some drug use abuse over earlier years. Simply powerful tune here.
Willie And The Hand Jive starts with some clever funk like parts, before Eric Clapton sings in a simple and direct way. This is very lush sounding, just going to show the awesome textures and sounds that Eric Clapton could make on recordings. Is Clapton really God? Time will tell, but this music here is outstanding and excellent. Clever use of sound effects are here.
Get Ready has an indescribably excellent guitar riff to launch this song into audio nirvana, and the song itself is a fantastic one. It’s about sexual urgency and Eric Clapton really sings with a load of emotion here. There is a call-and-response section with Clapton and a female singer. Definitely one of the greatest songs you will hear. Awesome to hear, even today.
The hit song I Shot The Sheriff comes next, which actually has a very 1970s feel to it. It’s a great song with many contradictory lyric lines in it about the subject matter. It is a great brilliant story of standing one’s ground in difficult circumstances in a specific storyline. A catchy, interesting and listenable piece, and no doubt an Eric Clapton fan favourite. The guitars really do sound fantastic here, and match the story perfectly. A great and awesome track to hear to this day. There is some nice piano and organ in the background as well.
Next is I Can’t Hold Out, and it is a simple blues tale by Clapton which is really quite subtle in its intent. It’s really soft sounding and well thought out too. There is some magnificent slide guitar soloing in this track, which sounds fantastic. This sounds very bluesy, no doubt Eric Clapton is a guitar hero for generations of blues musicians. Man, this cat has soul. A superb listen. The outro is rather unusual.
Please Be With Me is a slow and acoustic driven ballad by Eric Clapton with some gorgeous female backing vocals. It’s about keep a flame in a relationship through struggles of hardship and difficulty. It’s a melancholy sort of piece, and is very touching and moving. Slide guitars are here aplenty, and the whole piece is a beautiful sounding arrangement to boot. A tearjerker piece, but a great one for that.
Let It Grow is next a great song about metaphorically planting love as a long term objective. There is a painstaking attention to detail on these songs, way before computers could do the job for musicians themselves. This is a gentle and lovely sounding song, and Eric Clapton is delivering a great statement here. The lyrics here are quite image based, and Clapton delivers wonderfully here. There is a Beatlesque quality jam like outro, an excellent effort.
Next is Steady Rollin’ Man is a more straightforward and upbeat piece to hear. Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster tones sound really great on this album, and this song is a good example of that. There are funky wah-wah guitar parts throughout, and it is an excellent musical piece that is finely delivered and of top quality. Terrific work by Clapton and co.
Lastly, we have Mainline Florida which is a great sounding piece which ends the album nicely. It’s a great listen to finish off the 461 Ocean Boulevard journey, especially since it was recorded in Florida as well. A great sort of song to play if you are ever in Florida itself. There are some vocoder style sounds and chanted singing towards the end. Very nice finish to a great album.
This is definitely a classic album and deserves a place in your collection. Eric Clapton has continued to record music to this very day, with varying degrees of success. If you want to hear some great rock music, start here. You will not be disappointed. Check out remastered re-releases of this album, packed with extra tracks for your listening experience.