Called Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings, the deluxe release celebrates “the fertile year that signaled the spectacular creative resurgence of Eric Clapton,” according to Universal.
This set includes 29 bonus tracks (12 of them previously unreleased) from the period between April 1974 and June 1975, in which Clapton supposedly “reclaimed and enhanced his status as one of rock’s most legendary guitarists and singer-songwriters.” Whether that’s true or not is open to conjecture, but the period certainly marked a commercial renaissance for old ‘slow hand’.
The bulk of Give Me Strength centres on expanded, remastered versions of 461 Ocean Boulevard and There’s One In Every Crowd, the subsequent live set EC Was Here (now both remixed and expanded into a double CD), and a disc containing the complete Freddie King Criteria Studios Session. A sixth Blu-ray disc adds a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of 461 and the original quadrophonic mix of both studio releases.
“461 Ocean Boulevard, released in the summer of 1974 and named for the Miami beachfront mansion where the band lived during the recordings, marked Clapton’s return to recording after an absence of three years, and emphatically announced his creative and personal rehabilitation,” states the press release. “Previewed by his signature interpretation of Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot The Sheriff’, which topped the Hot 100, the album followed suit, leading the Billboard chart for four weeks, and going on to sell four million copies in the US alone. The new edition contains session outtakes and unreleased versions of ‘Getting Acquainted’ and the album staples ‘Please Be With Me’ and ‘Give Me Strength’.
There’s One In Every Crowd, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica at the landmark reggae studio Dynamic Sounds, was created in a break from the triumphant tour that followed the stunning success of 461. This restored edition offers Clapton’s non-album single interpretation of Bob Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ and a selection of session outtakes and unreleased tracks.
That tour would be commemorated by the EC Was Here double set, now expanded across two discs with numerous unissued extras such as versions of ‘Layla’, ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Little Wing’. That’s followed by the historic sessions at Criteria, where 461 had been made, in the summer of ’74 with Clapton’s hero Freddie King, for King’s Burglar album. Four tracks from those sessions appear here, including a glorious, 22-minute ‘Gambling Woman Blues’.”