461 Ocean Blvd. (Deluxe Edition)

461 Ocean Blvd. (Deluxe Edition)

This 1974 release, his first studio album in four years (and first since kicking his heroin problems), announced the arrival of a new Clapton: desperately trying to shed his guitar-god reputation, he emerged as a more polished, more focused mainstream rocker. Sure, there are still a number of blues covers and ample six-string wizardry to be found here ("Motherless Children," "Steady Rollin' Man"), but there's also a laid-back, easy flow. Clapton's own songwriting ("Give Me Strength," "Let It Grow") showed a newfound emotional maturity, and his cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" (amazingly, a chart-topping single) found him expanding his musical horizons. 461 balances Clapton's guitar mastery, songwriting skills, relaxed vocals, and refined taste as well as anything he's recorded.

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