Hot on the heels of the announcement of an expanded deluxe version of Eric Clapton's landmark Unplugged album comes this news of an era-defining box set. Clapton's Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings is a six-disc box that documents a full year of the guitarist's lengthy career.
After the runaway success of Derek & the Dominos' Layla, Clapton found himself at a crossroads (sorry...) and it would be three years until he released 461 Ocean Boulevard, his sophomore album and a proper follow-up to his 1970 self-titled solo debut. The guitarist had beat his debilitating heroin addiction, and recorded an album of his trademark blend of rock, blues, and R&B with a dash of new reggae influences resulting in the hit "I Shot The Sheriff," a cover of a song by a then-obscure Jamaican artist by the name of Bob Marley. 461 Ocean Boulevard shot to the top of the charts and would become the biggest record of Clapton's career at that point, spawning a second Top 30 hit in the Johnny Otis cover "Willie and the Hand Jive."
Clapton followed 461 Ocean Boulevard less than a year later with There's One In Every Crowd, a somewhat rushed collection that fell short of its predecessor's success, but still made it to #21 on the charts. A few months later the guitarist struck again with the live E.C. Was Here, a far bluesier album than his two previous studio efforts, with a scorching rendition of Robert Johnson's "Rambling On My Mind" as well as performances of two Blind Faith era songs, Clapton's original "Presence of the Lord" and Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home."
Give Me Strength boxes up all three of these albums in deluxe, expanded versions, 55 songs in all across five CDs, including previously-unreleased studio outtakes from 461 Ocean Boulevard and There's One In Every Crowd as well as non-album single B-sides in "Someone Like You" and Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." E.C. Was Here is also expanded with four previously-unreleased performances from the same 1974 concert that the original album was sourced from - "Layla," "I Shot The Sheriff," "Little Wing," and Clapton's signature take on Johnson's "Crossroads" as well as a number of other live tracks from other sources.
The fifth disc of Clapton's Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings offers The Freddie King Criteria Studios Sessions with an unreleased version of "Boogie Funk" and the unreleased full-length version of "Gambling Woman Blues." Disc number six is a Blu-ray disc with a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of 461 Ocean Boulevard and the original 4.0 Quadraphonic mixes of There's One In Every Crowd and E.C. Was Here (anybody else remember quadraphonic albums?). The box set also includes a 60-page hardbound book with lengthy liner notes by John Lynskey and a bunch of rare and behind-the-scenes photos. At a cost of less than a hundred dollar bill, this is a set that a lot of Clapton fans will want under their Christmas tree this year!
Photo courtesy Universal Music