Eric Clapton - Give Me Strength: The 1974/75 Recordings
What state Eric Clapton’s legacy? It’s a valid question. His profile in the eyes of the wider buying public has slipped significantly over the last couple of decades and in a world built on surprises and fresh sounds his heyday of the 1970s and 80s seem a world away. Not feted in the same way as contemporaries like David Bowie are, there's a sense that his work is positively old fashioned by comparison.
Now though, Give Me Strength: The ‘74/’75 Recordings brings us a reminder of the blues guitarist at his creative peak, capturing both his studio recordings and electric live show. There are various options available including a two-disc version, with remasters of the 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard and 1975’s There’s One In Every Crowd, and a mega-version with six discs including the two remastered albums, the double disc live cut E.C. Was Here and a bunch of further outtakes and live recordings, as well as a Blu-Ray and sixty page hardback book.
The two studio albums showcase a resurgent Clapton following drugs and relationship dramas, his consummate guitar work and blues-driven sound are fresh and very different from his previous life in Derek and the Dominos. 461 Ocean Boulevard includes one of his biggest hits, a defining cover of Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot The Sheriff’, its reggae influence part of the meld of styles, which include gospel (‘Give Me Strength’) and straight blues (‘I Can’t Hold Out’). The blues/reggae mix that is There’s One In Every Crowd with its funky ‘Singin’ The Blues’ is now expanded to including another reggae-inflected cover, the single ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. The outtakes and off cuts are blues-heavy and include a host of curios, such as the extended guitar solo in ‘Meet Me (Down At The Bottom)’ and the delicious ‘Eric After Hours Blues’.
Clapton fans will lap this up; the previously unreleased material is strong and supports the key period of his career covered by this collection. For everyone else, the two disc set is a great reminder of one of the key British artists of the day - and one who deserves the re-evaluation this set more than evidences.
*The Blu-Ray disc and 60 page hardbound book were not available to review.