Our Music Year No. 4: Eric Clapton, ‘461 Ocean Boulevard’

By From page B1 | January 04, 2013

Artist: Eric Clapton
Title: “461 Ocean Boulevard”
Year: 1974
Format: Spotify
Grade: C

“461” is known as the record that energized Eric Clapton’s post-junk, post-Derek and the Dominoes career, as well as for his cover of “I Shot the Sheriff,” which remains his highest-charting single to date.

It’s mostly a collection of covers – Bob Marley, Robert Johnson, Elmore James. It’s also not the showcase for his talents the way “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” or “Disraeli Gears” was before it.

There’s nothing daring or bold here, which is sort of true of much of Clapton’s output. He has chops, but they’re often nestled inside of songs that would struggle to stand on their own.

“Sheriff” remains an idiosyncratic success, a rote reggae cover stacked against a career of blues and pop rock. The two tracks preceding it, “Willie and the Hand Jive” and “Get Ready,” show a hint of reggae inflection to prime listeners.

The back half of the record shows more spirit than the front. Track eight, “Let it Grow,” is the best song in here, but doesn’t escape such hokey pontifications as “love is lovely.”

It may be one of the records to revitalize Clapton’s career, but “461 Ocean Boulevard” feels less like an overlooked gem than a median effort.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.

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