Many Eric Clapton fans were not alive in 1974 and 1975, but he was alive, well, and creating come of the best music of his career. The box set, Give Me Strength: ‘74/’75 Recordings, will be released December 10th, and covers the three albums and extra studio and live tracks recorded between April 1974 and June 1975.
This was a prolific era for Clapton as 461 Ocean Boulevard, There’s One In Every Crowd, and E.C. Was Here were all released during this time period. Each album has been remastered, remixed, and expanded with bonus tracks. The 88 tracks are a treasure trove for any Clapton fan or for anyone who does not own these albums.
Disc one contains the 461 Ocean Boulevard recordings and the improvement in the sound quality of what has been previously available is readily apparent. Classic songs such as “Willie And The Hand Jive,” “Mainline Florida,” “Give Me Strength,” and “I Shot The Sheriff” have a pristine sound. Nuances which have not been noticeable are now available to be explored. The eight bonus tracks include four previously unreleased tracks including an acoustic version of “Please Be With Me.”
Disc two is more of the same but with There’s One In Every Crowd as the center piece. It has always had a nice bluesy feel as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “The Sky Is Crying,” “Singin’ The Blues,” and “Pretty Blue Eyes” just wash over you. Also included is the non-album single “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which makes a good album stronger. The two best bonus tracks from the sessions are the previously unreleased “Burial” and “Fools Like Me.”
Clapton’s live album, E.C. Was Here, has been expanded to the point that it now covers two discs and 16 tracks. Four previously unreleased tracks from his July 20, 1974, Long Beach Arena Show have been added to the mix. “Crossroads,” “I Shot The Sheriff,” “Layla,” and “Little Wing” have remained a part of his stage act for decades but here they find him performing these songs near the beginning of his solo career.
Disc Five is the most interesting. It is made up of four tracks from The Freddie King Criteria Studios Sessions. “Sugar Sweet” and “TV Mama” have been available before but the previously unreleased “Boogie Funk” and a spectacular 22 minute performance of “Gambling Woman Blues,” which just keeps on going are highlights of the set.
The Blue-Ray disc is for the Clapton aficionado who wants everything. Both 461 Ocean Boulevard and There’s One In Every Crowd come with 5:1 surround sound and a quadrophonic mix.
Give Me Strength: ‘74/’75 Recordings is an interesting release by one of rock music’s enduring superstars. It not only presents his legacy but expands it as well. One of the better box sets of the year.