Q (2/96, p.104) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...closed the chapter on Clapton as guitar hero and opened a new one as a hitmaker with a more relaxed and commercial style..."
Uncut (p.172) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]he 1974 album on which Clapton rediscovered the primacy of music in his life. The result was a joyous collection..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.119) - 4 stars out of 5 - "A form-finding set, comedown as comeback."
After playing the 1973 Rainbow Concerts that were arranged by good friend Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton returned to Florida's Criteria Recording Studio to cut 461 OCEAN BOULEVARD. Because of a stint of personal turmoil, Clapton had not played guitar for two years preceeding the Rainbow Concerts, but with the help of a core group of musicians including George Terry, former Derek & the Dominos bassist Carl Radle, Jamie Oldaker, and Yvonne Elliman, Slowhand put together an album that many consider to be his best.
Focusing more on his singing than his guitar pyrotechnics of the past, the new, improved Clapton used a laid-back, J.J. Cale-type vocal style to great effect on a mellow version of "Willie And The Hand Jive" and Elmore James's "I Can't Hold Out." Far from being a kinder, gentler guitar hero, Clapton also showed considerable spark on a slide-drenched "Motherless Children" and the driving "Mainline Florida," which closes out the album. Of course, his cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" was the musical statement that took him to the top of the charts and let the general public know he was back. 461 OCEAN BOULEVARD is still one of the highest points of Clapton's solo career.
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