Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Eric Clapton: 461 Ocean Boulevard [RSO, 1974]
By opening the first side with "Motherless Children" and closing it with "I Shot the Sheriff," Clapton puts the rural repose of his laid-back-with-Leon music into a context of deprivation and conflict, adding bite to soft-spoken professions of need and faith that might otherwise smell faintly of the most rural of laid-back commodities, bullshit. And his honesty has its reward: better sex. The casual assurance you can hear now in his singing goes with the hip-twitching syncopation he brings to Robert Johnson's "Steady Rolling Man" and Elmore James's "I Can't Hold Out," and though the covers are what make this record memorable it's on "Get Ready," written and sung with Yvonne Elliman, that his voice takes on a mellow, seductive intimacy he's never come close to before. A