After the reasonable success of 461 Ocean Boulevard, Eric Clapton decided to continue his solo career in a similar musical fashion. The result was this album, released in 1975, just a year after 461 Ocean Boulevard’s release and proof that Clapton, after a four-year-long break during 1970-1974 where he took some time off to deal with things and indulge in drugs, basically, was now on a roll. This should be a good album to listen to from Eric Clapton so let’s do just that.
We’ve Been Told (Jesus Is Coming Soon) begins with some beautiful acoustic guitar progressions, some strange slide guitar and a nice yet very typical 1970s tune. Of course, this is very Bluesy and wonderful to hear from Eric Clapton. Yes, this is a Christian tune, but it works very well, better than one would expect. The slide guitar work is simple, Blues-influenced and beautifully done, it just sounds incredibly good here. Soon enough, this goes back into the acoustic section before the song gets going again. A very nice tune indeed, and even if you don’t believe in God or Christian based concepts, this is wonderful music to enjoy. A great and lively song is present on this album, although a little repetitive with its gospel female singing in the chorus. A very refreshing listen to hear, and a nice start to this album. An enjoyable and upbeat listen, although not every Classic Rock fan will enjoy this tune. It ends slowly and gradually with clapping and some interesting subtle drum rolls to finish. A good start to the album.
Swing Low Sweet Chariot begins with a short drum roll, launching into a very Reggae styled tune. This is a far cry of the Blues based Eric Clapton of before, it is him branching out into new territory musically. Nonetheless, this is a decent tune for what it is, and Eric Clapton does a great job musically and his guitar work is excellent here. A nice and relaxing tune, ideal to play by the pool and relax to. Simple, effective and gorgeous, with some awesome female backing vocals present. A different piece of music from the sort of music that Clapton has done before, this is a majestic and enjoyable tune to hear. This is precisely the sort of music that Punk bands would have very much loathed back in the day. Despite that, this is a decent and relaxing piece of music that has a decent sense of artistry to it. Great song, simple and beautiful, Clapton reigns as a great musician here. Wonderful to hear, although more textural than anything loud and rocking here.
Little Rachel begins with some clean Blues strumming on Eric Clapton’s famous Blackie Fender Stratocaster, and Slowhand himself launches into a good piece of Blues based music here. This is much more familiar territory for Clapton, and it is a slow but awesome Bluesy romp. Very catchy, even more so than the previous tracks here, Eric Clapton seemingly sounds happy and confident on this song. This is slow, but full of Blues/Rock energy with some subtle and interesting guitar parts to it. This is the sort of music that your older relative would play to you on a drive to that holiday spot, with you sitting there in awe of the sound being played. A tremendously good effort, old school but not old, this music still sounds fantastic today. Blues is often overlooked today especially as a genre, but this song still sounds audibly great and fantastic all the same. Minimal music for sure, but other groups have made much more boring music with a lot more individual tracks on a song that this. Eric Clapton is sure a great and talented musician, and delivers very well here. Nice work dude.
Don’t Blame Me begins with a short drum roll, before launching into another Reggae/Rock flavoured track. Sure, it may seem rather cliched to make such music now, but remember this was the mid-1970s where Bob Marley and Reggae was quite a thing in the music scene internationally. Another slow and gorgeous piece by Slowhand, this is even closer to Reggae than before on the album, with Eric Clapton sounding a lot like a Reggae singer than a Bluesman of before. A really interesting tune nonetheless, this tells a good lyrical story, with female backing vocals to match. Understandably, this is a bit odd for this sort of album, but it still retains the spark of musicality that Eric Clapton retained in earlier times. Another enjoyable and classy tune to listen to, this has some interesting sounds, including organ and a load of cleverly executed guitar fills. A gorgeous tune, although it is dated. A lyrical response to I Shot The Sheriff, this works extremely well. Nice effort.
The Sky Is Crying is one of Eric Clapton’s better known tunes. It begins with a vocal introduction, followed by a more directly Blues influenced tune here. This is a real joy to hear, and is directly influenced by many of the Blues greats of yesteryear, of whom Clapton was very much inspired and influenced by since early on in his time as a musician. This has some nice sounds, including piano, organ and a slow tempo to go along with this tune. A basic Blues tune, noticeably with a lot of electric guitar absent from it until nearly halfway through, when some wah-wah slide guitar emerges. Still, this is a great listen for such a piece, and the music present is deliberately restrained. This is not exactly AC/DC nor The Sex Pistols here in terms of in-your-face loud intensity, it just works on a musical level that requires deep attention to it. An interesting song nonetheless, and a good lyrical Blues tale by Slowhand. It is wonderful to hear such variety from Eric Clapton in his solo career, without straying too far from his traditional Blues background. This ends with some basic drumrolls and some rather berzerk wah-wah slide guitar, which is interesting. Good tune regardless.
Singin’ The Blues begins with more wah-wah slide guitar, some interesting Blues guitar riffing, launching into a mellow piece that is very 461 Ocean Boulevard in its sound and appeal. Nonetheless, this is not simply a copy of the music from that album, it is Eric Clapton writing the next musical chapter in his career. More call-and-response vocals are present between Clapton and the female soul backing singers. This is something ideal for folks who live in Southern USA, and more of the sort of enjoyable Pop/Rock music that Punk Rockers and Metalheads would absolutely loathe. In any case, this piece of music is enjoyable enough to approve of. A more textural piece of songcraft rather than something lyrical here, which is both great and a flaw at the heart of this album of these songs, this is nonetheless still very enjoyable music. A fine piece of music with some wah-wah guitar soloing that is very 1970s. A great piece of solid Blues Rock with some proto-Shred soloing here, this sounds great for what it is. It fades out very quickly.
Better Make It Through Today begins with some more gentle and laidback playing from the backing band, with some gentle instrumentation and guitars throughout. Eric Clapton sings in a gentle fashion, reminding the listener of the fragility of the human condition. This is a good statement from Slowhand, simply stating he hopes to make through whatever life throws at him. This is one of the better pieces of music from this album, and every instrument is played melodically and wonderfully to perfection. There is a searing guitar solo which is nicely played by Clapton, and he illustrates that, in a musical sense, he is definitely a God. This is followed by some keyboard based organ solos, before going straight back into the verses. Brilliant and hopeful, this is something to give hope to those who have little to nothing in their lives. A fluid and enjoyable song, definitely worth hearing. It finishes with subtle hi-hats and cymbals, with the organs playing to fade out.
Pretty Blue Eyes begins with some acoustic guitars, some slide playing and a nice sense of multitracked percussion in the background. This quickly launches into a top tune that sounds excellently melodic and joyful, and is likely inspired by Eric Clapton’s deep love for Pattie Boyd (which is an interesting story to Google about). A very lovely and simple tune, which fits the album very nicely. It quickly launches into a pseudo Pink Floyd styled piece with organs galore and harmonies that scream 1975 all over it. This, again is more textural than song based, but Clapton still retains a good sense of quality control and musicianship on this album to maintain one’s interest musically. The acoustic guitar playing is really fine and fantastic, and Slowhand shows his best side here. This tune is very reminiscent of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks album, but updated for the mid 1970s listener. Still, a glorious and joyful listen from Eric Clapton. The harmonies here are fantastic, and rival The Beatles and The Beach Boys in appeal. Towards the end are some wonderful multitracked acoustic guitars that sound excellent. Another great listen, this is a purely enjoyable tune to listen to. Excellent.
High begins with clean, multitracked guitar parts that are nicely melodic. Soon enough, a jam emerges with slide guitar and this piece sounds a little weaker than the others on this album. Still, it is nice to hear a good melodic tune. Knowing Eric Clapton, this was probably recorded under the influence, hence the title of the song. A little odd melodically, it sounds like a little bit of a throwback to some late 1960s music that Clapton never was able to make in Cream days. Still, it is enjoyable, although it sounds definitely odd. A good piece of music nonetheless, it sounds different all the same. There is a Rock based guitar solo towards the end that showed that Eric Clapton was still the musical God that he was back in the late 1960s. An interesting listen all the same.
Opposites concludes the album, with some melodic arpeggios that are heavily effects laden. This, like the previous tune, isn’t outright bad, but a little unusual sounding. Soon enough, it kicks into an enjoyable and lyrically image evoking tune that takes some deep concepts that Eric Clapton is feeling and paints them into the listener’s mind. Simple, melodic and quite beautiful, this is good music that sounds a little strange in some respects. There are some interesting keyboards and guitar playing through this slightly repetitive listen. Still, a very inspired and solid listening experience that shows that, even after the heyday of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, guitar based music was far from dead at this point. A textural piece more so than a really song based tune, so to speak, it still garners enough attention to be enjoyed. This paints this album as an often misunderstood listen as it closes. A good tune all the same, and something that is very enjoyable to listen to. The keyboards and sounds build up towards the end, before concluding well. The drumrolls at the end are a nice touch, too.
For those who need a good slice of nostalgic Blues Rock music that is very typical of the mid 1970s, especially as this was released in 1975, this is definitely a good place to listen. In some ways, this is not as consistent as 461 Ocean Boulevard, which was released the year before, being less song based and more textural based in general. Having said that, this is an album that still should be listened to, especially by Classic Rock fans, to this day. A greater listening experience than expected, just before digital technology began to change the way that music was made from the late 1970s onwards, which forever altered the way that music was made. Eric Clapton obviously made some very inspired music from a deep, emotional and soulful place. If you liked 461 Ocean Boulevard before it and are keen to hear more of what early Eric Clapton was about in his solo career, this is a no brainer to explore. An underrated album.
An underrated and enjoyable sonic adventure.