Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard

More Eric Clapton

  • An outstanding UK pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, strong rhythmic energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these British LPs simply capture more of the 461 midrange magic than they do
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the pop concessions on the album don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ ‘Willie and the Hand Jive,’ the traditional blues ‘Motherless Children,’ Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ or Clapton’s emotional original ‘Let It Grow.'”

This album has some of Clapton’s best material, including Motherless Children and the famous cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff.

Tom Dowd recorded this album at Criteria in Miami, where Layla was recorded. I’d say the sound here is substantially better than what you typically get on that album, keeping in mind the sonic variations from track to track on Layla, which can be fairly dramatic.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of 461 Ocean Boulevard Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1974
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Moving Product

Classic Rock is the heart and soul of our business. Finding quiet, good sounding pressings of Classic Rock albums is what we devote the bulk of our resources (time and money) to, and if we can be indulged a self-compliment, it’s what we do best.

No one is even bothering to attempt the kind of shootouts we immerse ourselves in every day. And who can blame them? It’s hard to assemble all the resources it takes to pull it off. There are a huge number of steps a record must go through before it finds itself for sale on our site, which means there are about twenty records in the backroom for every one that can be found on the site.

If the goal is to move product this is a very bad way to go about it. Then again, we don’t care about moving product for the sake of moving product. Our focus must be on finding, cleaning and critically evaluating the best sounding pressings, of the best music, we can get our hands on.

What We’re Listening For On 461 Ocean Boulevard

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

A Must Own Rock Record

We consider this album Clapton’s Masterpiece. It’s a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Collection.

Others that belong in that category can be found here.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Motherless Children
Give Me Strength
Willie and the Hand Jive
Get Ready
I Shot the Sheriff

Side Two

I Can’t Hold Out
Please Be With Me
Let It Grow
Steady Rollin’ Man
Mainline Florida

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

461 Ocean Boulevard is Eric Clapton’s second studio solo album, arriving after his side project of Derek and the Dominos and a long struggle with heroin addiction. Although there are some new reggae influences, the album doesn’t sound all that different from the rock, pop, blues, country, and R&B amalgam of Eric Clapton.

However, 461 Ocean Boulevard is a tighter, more focused outing that enables Clapton to stretch out instrumentally. Furthermore, the pop concessions on the album — the sleek production, the concise running times — don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the traditional blues “Motherless Children,” Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” or Clapton’s emotional original “Let It Grow.”

With its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and strong bluesy roots, 461 Ocean Boulevard set the template for Clapton’s ’70s albums. Though he tried hard to make an album exactly like it, he never quite managed to replicate its charms.