Saturday, November 9, 2013

CD Review: Eric Clapton Gets Renewed "Strength" From Six-Disc Box Set

As the season for giving draws near, what music fan would not be excited to receive the new box set from Eric Clapton under their Christmas tree. The new 6-disc set entitled "Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Records" overflows with music, especially unreleased live recordings, outtakes and studio sessions.

This set picks up Clapton's musical career following his success with Derek And The Dominoes. He took a three year hiatus from the music industry before returning in 1974 with his first #1 single "I Shot The Sheriff" from his album "461 Ocean Boulevard." That album is featured on disc 1 of the set in a remastered expanded version that contains the original album with the hit songs "Willie And The Hand Jive" and "Let It Grow" along with 8 bonus songs, which half have never been officially released before. The session out-takes on disc one include the bluesy "Ain't That Lovin' You" and the incredible instrumental guitar display of "Getting Acquainted." The first disc closes with a great, raw acoustic take of "Please Be With Me" and the dobro version of "Give Me Strength."

Quickly after the release of "461 Ocean Boulevard," came the less popular "There's One In Every Crowd" in 1975. While the album did not reveal a hit single for Clapton, it does include some great cover songs like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "The Sky Is Crying." The real gems of the second disc lies within the 5 bonus session outtakes. Clapton tries to recapture the tone of his hit single "I Shot The Sheriff" with the reggae riff of "Burial" and the slow blues of "(When Things Go Wrong) It Hurts Me Too." The second disc closes with the non-album singles "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "Someone Like You" which found only mild success on the charts.

The real treasure (besides the Blu-ray disc) is the newly remixed and remastered version of Clapton's 1975 live album "E.C. Was Here." The originally six-song release gets expanded to 16 songs spread over two discs. Mostly recorded over the course of two shows in Long Beach, California in 1974, Clapton and his band were on fire, turning songs like Blind Faith's "Presence Of The Lord" into a gospel jam. He takes Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" to the 9-minute mark with his passionate guitar solos and interplay with organist Dick Sims. The third disc closes with the full version of "Driftin' Blues" that pushes close to the twelve minute mark.

The fourth disc continues where the last left off with a burning version of "Ramblin' On My Mind," which was recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon five months after the Long Beach shows. The song that solidifies Clapton's amazing live shows is his 24-minute cover of The Who's "Eyesight To The Blind" that was recorded at the Providence Civic Center the following year.

The final audio disc of the set is a short four-song set from the Freddie King Criteria studio sessions. While two of the songs ("Sugar Sweet" and "TV Mama") were previously released, the two other newly released songs features the guitar blazing instrumental "Boogie Funk" and the slow blues romp of "Gambling Woman Blues."

The set also includes a Blu-ray disc that features a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the album "461 Ocean Boulevard" and 4.0 quadraphonic mixes of "461 Ocean Boulevard" and "There's One In Every Crowd." The discs are accompanied by a 60-page hardcover book with extensive liner notes and rare photos. The set will be available on December 10 and is sure to please any music fan this holiday. To find out more about this special release, please visit

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