REVIEW: Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings

I have been unbelievably excited about this collection since it was first announced earlier in the year. The collection contains 5 CD’s with each one dedicated to a certain period and album between 1974/1975.

The first CD contains Clapton’s ‘comeback’ album from 1974, 461 Ocean Boulevard. What strikes you instantly is how great this album now sounds after an extensive remastering. I have the previous version of this album and the improvement in sound is huge. Along with the full studio album, there are a number of outtakes and alternate takes from the recording sessions. Some have been released before on the previous ‘deluxe edition’ set from the last decade but there are some new tracks. The best track by far from these outtakes is Getting Acquainted which would have fitted perfectly into the original track listing even if it does sound more like a jam. The CD ends with two bare versions of album songs played on acoustic and dobro, Please Be With Me and Give Me Strength. These renditions give the listener a great insight into the evolution of these songs.

The second disc is the one I’m personally most excited about. There’s One In Every Crowd, Clapton’s followup to 461 Ocean Boulevard, has always been overlooked when people think about his 70’s output. It’s more of a laid back album and it was in dire need of a good remaster so finally hearing it so good is very exciting. The tracks are louder, more crisp and sound excellent! Just like the previous disc, there are outtakes and alternate takes included after the original studio album finishes. My favourite by far is a rendition of (When Things Go Wrong) It Hurts Me Too, which reminds me a lot of the Derek and the Dominos equivalent which was recorded in their aborted second album sessions. It’s a shame this wasn’t included on the final 1975 album, it’s wonderful!

Clapton’s live album E.C. Was Here is the basis for the third and fourth discs. The album has been heavily remastered but also expanded massively from the original release. The 1975 original album only had 6 songs but this has an additional 10. A particular gem from these previously unreleased tracks is a great rendition of Eyesight to the Blind by Sonny Boy Williamson II, however Clapton plays the version which appears on The Who’s Tommy album. The song then morphs into a great rendition of Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad before closing with Further On Up The Road, a track which proves Clapton hadn’t lost any of his blues playing during this more laid-back period of his career.

The fifth and final CD contains songs from Clapton’s session with blues guitarist (and hero) Freddie King. Originally included on King’s Burglar album, the four tracks here are simply fantastic.

Overall this is an extremely exciting and enjoyable set which covers 1974 and 1975 in great depth. My only grievance is that they could have extended the set by a year and included Clapton’s 1976 album No Reason To Cry. The album isn’t as good as 461 Ocean Boulevard and There’s One In Every Crowd but it’s an album that ALWAYS gets forgotten and a good remaster with extra tracks would have given it the attention that it deserves. That said, it’s not much of a complaint. What we do get here is fantastic and I very much recommend it.

Art

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