"461 Ocean Boulevard", Eric Clapton's second solo album from 1974, is an appealing amalgam of several different styles (rock, pop, R&B, country, blues and even reggae).
It may not have the flashy guitar work of his earlier recordings, nor is it as gritty as fans of Eric Clapton the blues player (rather than Eric Clapton the pop singer) might have preferred. But it is a pleasant, low-key affair with several excellent songs, including a charming, laid-back rendition of Johnny Otis' "Willie And The Hand Jive" and the lovely, folkish ballad "Please Be With Me", originally recorded by Southern rockers Cowboy.
Clapton should stay away from covering Elmore James, though. He obviously knows that he can't match the intensity of James' vocals, so he delivers "I Can't Hold Out" in a very subdued style which doesn't suit the song.
His version of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff", although somewhat watered-down, works really well, though, as does the mournful, almost spiritual blues "Give Me Strength" and the melodious "Let It Grow", both of them Eric Clapton originals.
Lovely slide dobro playing on "Let It Grow".
Another bluesy spiritual, Blind Willie Johnson's "Motherless Children (have a hard time)", is quite good as well in this electric, up-tempo recording, in spite of the clippety-clop rhythm played by drummer Jamie Oldaker (kind of a strange choice for a blues number).
But all in all, "461 Ocean Boulevard" is a really fine album, and one that Eric Clapton tried again and again to replicate over the next ten years. It's not perfect, but it is as good as the man from Surrey ever got during his solo years.