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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Blues > Multi-Channel Music > Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard (Universal SA-CD/SACD/Super Audio CD)

Eric Clapton: 461 Ocean Boulevard (Super Audio Compact Disc)


PCM CD: B     DSD 5.1: A-     DSD Stereo: B+     Music:  B+



Arriving after a short-lived stint in the group Derek and the Dominoes, Eric Clapton was back solo after three years.  After his hit Rainbow Concert album, his second solo studio album 461 Ocean Boulevard arrived in 1974 and is now available as a multi-channel hybrid SACD.  This version has reinvigorated the album to a new stature.  For me, this is an album that gives a quick snapshot of the varying styles that Clapton was able to reach into at the height of his ability.  He would venture here into his typical blues, pop, rock, country, and even go to the point of reggae with his cover version of I Shot the Sheriff, which I never much cared for.  This was a trend that started when Led Zeppelin the year before did the Jamaican flavored D’Yer Maker, which came off their most relaxed album Houses of the Holy


The point of this review is not to really unearth this particular album when people by now know well just how influential it would be as well as the template that it would serve for Clapton’s work of the 70’s (and before he started leaving windows open around kids) What I can say immediately about this particular SACD is that songs that never really seemed to work on either previous existing format be it vinyl, cassette, CD, or even on the radio it never had much justice, which I long thought was just my personal feelings toward the song.  However, I am quickly proven that with the right type of mix a particular album can be a breath of fresh air despite how many times you’ve heard the tunes prior. 

Track Listing:


Motherless Children

Give Me Strength

Willie and the Hand Jive

Get Ready

I Shot the Sheriff

I Can’t Hold Out

Please Be With Me

Let it Grow

Steady Rollin’ Man

Mainline Florida


Bonus Tracks:


Walkin’ Down The Line

Ain’t That Lovin’ You

Meet Me (Down At The Bottom)



I Shot the Sheriff was a huge chart-topping hit for Clapton, with Yvonne Elliman on backing vocal for the remake of the Bob Marley classic, while the ever-durable Willie and the Hand Jive was a Top 30 hit.  Motherless Children was a hugely successful album cut on Rock radio across the country, helping send the album into astronomical sales.  It has been issued as a gold CD, in countless special vinyl record album pressings and even a 5.1 DTS-only CD version, so it is one of the few SACD releases to have received such widespread release treatment in advance of this one.


The PCM 2.0 16Bit/44.1kHz CD tracks on the SACD Hybrid give better definition to any previous release and you can instantly hear minor nuances in clarity and this is just the CD layer!  Now, for the real treat take the disc into overdrive and listen to either the DSD Stereo or DSD Multi Channel mix and you are in for a world of fun.  What becomes apparent is the use of more instruments than imagined as you can actually hear the articulation in certain percussion instruments, or layered guitars, etc.  If you were to just listen to older recordings of this album you pretty much only hear drums, bass, and guitar.  Here you can experience much more because the instruments that are layered in are now able to force their way out of the mix by having more channels to engulf.  The mix here takes most of the vocals and keeps them nice and centered in the frontal speakers, while the harmonies seem to creep into the surrounds and make for further expression of the tune. 


Clapton’s guitar seems to wander around the mix depending on the feel for the song.  Backing vocals are typically in the rear as well, which makes for a nice ambiance.  The DSD Stereo layer of course does not integrate the surrounds, but does keep a very solid mix in just the front two channels.  Solid is sometimes more important to some as they would rather just have a nice tight sound, versus having a very artsy flare.  Purist are going to prefer having the stereo mix, while those interested in hearing the album like never before will want to check out the 5.1 mix. 


My only real complaint with this particular release is one of personal taste and that is the low-end presence.  I am a fan of solid bass and especially bass that is well managed and well represented, which most of 70’s rock music seems to lack when it comes to presenting it.  While some rock music does not integrate as much ‘bass line’ playing and tries to keep the bass locked together with the drums, I would almost prefer to hear more bass presence, but that is just me.  Clarity is quite stunning here given that this album is well over 30 years and sounds fresh here.  My biggest compliment is that the mix was taken very seriously and was recreated with the mindset that people listening to this are going to enjoy hearing more of the orchestration, rather than try to be fancy and boost levels all over the place.  The right liberties were taken here and the payoff is huge!



-   Nate Goss


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