Scottish Ramblin’ (Beano-009)
The mid eighties were perhaps the most dramatic change in form for Eric Clapton. The mellow country-r0ck-blues aesthetic served him well on 1977’s Slowhand, but seemed a bit redundant on 1983’s Money And Cigarettes. The audience also changed and Clapton worked with Phil Collins to develop a more “eighties” sound.
Warner Brothers rejected the first Behind The Sun in late 1984 and demanded that he record two new songs, “Forever Man” and “See What Love Can Do,” written by Jerry Williams and backed by Los Angeles session musicians. When finally released in March 1985 it was a modest success. The album received good reviews and reached thirty-four on Billboard and the two newer songs plus “She’s Waiting” all charted. “Forever Man” even hit number one.
But in retrospect it’s not considered to be one of his best albums. One reviewer states it is “Cheesy banal pop in the general Eighties vibe; cheesy banal pop with bluesy pretensions that don’t work; generic bland balladeering with debilizingly straight lyric; and disco numbers disguised as blues once again…The rest stinks worse than a Russian village toilet.”
Right before the album was released he started touring with two shows in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scottish Ramblin’ captures the two shows plus the rehearsals before the first night. The sound quality for the two shows and the rehearsal are in general very good to excellent audience tapes. The February 27th tape has the most clear and enjoyable sound and the February 28th is a bit more distant from the stage but still very nice.
Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland – February 27th, 1985
Disc 1 (58:52): Everybody Ought To Make A Change, Motherless Children, I Shot The Sheriff, Same Old Blues, Blues Power, Tangled In Love, Steppin’ Out, Just Like A Prisoner, Tulsa Time, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
Disc 2 (60:38): Badge, Behind The Sun, Wonderful Tonight, Let It Rain, Blues Medley (Who’s Loving You Tonight / Have You Ever Loved A Woman / Rambling On My Mind), Cocaine, Layla, Knock On Wood, Further On Up the Road
The Behind The Sun tour began on February 27th. This is the first live show for Clapton in almost three months, since the December 2nd, 1984 show in Hong Kong. The set list remains pretty much the same. Starting with “Everybody Ought To Make A Change,” it runs for two hours and ends with “Layla” and “Knock On Wood” serving as the first encore.
He already introduced some of the new songs to the stage including “Tangled In Love,” “Same Old Blues” (played as early as Zürich in January) and “She’s Waiting.” He drops “She’s Waiting” and gives “Just Like A Prisoner” and “Behind The Sun” their live debuts (as far as we can tell – the tour of Australia and the Far East is very spotty).
The results are good for an opening night. There is some hesitation and a few mental mistakes, but overall it’s a very passionate performance before an accepting crowd. Clapton himself was going through a tough time in his personal life which he describes as “messy” in his autobiography, but that adds further passion to the performance.
“Everybody Ought To Make A Change” crawls across the stage, but things pick up quickly with great versions of “Motherless Children” and “I Shot The Sheriff.”
Before “Same Old Blues” he tells the audience “we’re gonna try a few new songs. They’re not new to us…” The new blues epic will be expanded on further tours but at this early stage is an effective live piece.
Clapton introduces “Tangled In Love” as “one Marcy wrote” and Shaun Murphy has her fun with “Steppin’ Out.” They follow with the premier live performance of “Just Like A Prisoner” from Behind The Sun. One of the few songs he wrote himself, it’s a fascinating track with an interesting melody and melancholy guitars. It’s unlike much of the other songs played. It’s limited appeal probably doomed it from enjoying more than a few live performances.
“Behind The Sun” segues into “Wonderful Tonight,” forming an interesting juxtaposition. The rest of the show reverts to more “standard” Clapton performances. The blues medley is followed by “Cocaine” and the set closer “Layla” with a tremendous performance of the piano coda.
The encores are exciting versions of “Knock On Wood” and, after introducing the band, “Further On Up The Road.”
Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland – February 28th, 1985
Disc 3 (60:56): Everybody Ought To Make A Change, Motherless Children, I Shot The Sheriff, Same Old Blues, Blues Power, Tangled In Love, Steppin’ Out, Just Like A Prisoner, Tulsa Time, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
Disc 4 (61:21): Badge, Behind The Sun, Wonderful Tonight, Let It Rain, Blues Medley (Who’s Loving You Tonight / Have You Ever Loved A Woman / Rambling On My Mind), Cocaine, Layla, Knock On Wood, Further On Up the Road
The second night in Edinburgh is much better than the first. The minimal kinks from the first night have been worked out, and Clapton himself seems to be much more loose. The show was produced by the same taper and has identical sound quality. The setlist remains the same including the rarity “Just Like A Prisoner.”
Rehearsals at Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland – February 27th, 1985
Disc 5 (60:17): Tuning, Same Old Blues, Blues Power, Tangled In Love, Just Like A Prisoner, Behind The Sun, Wonderful Tonight, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby, Steppin’ Out, Everybody Ought To Make A Change
The first track is ten minutes of Clapton tuning his guitar. It’s quite boring until the eight minute mark when he begins to play Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” in the same arrangement he used to play in the seventies. There are no vocals, but he plays the verses, chorus, and reaches the ascending riff in the middle before telling the band to play “Same Old Blues.”
They play about four minutes of the song before a segue into “Blues Power.” After a powerful performance Clapton comments “Well, that’s very bassy, innit?”
They next play three new songs. “Tangled In Love” has some buzzing in the PA. “I can hear it creeping up” he comments afterwards and spends some time trying to find its source. They follow with “Just Like A Prisoner” and, after a cut in the tape, the slower paced “Behind The Sun” which segues into “Wonderful Tonight,” just as in the concerts.
Marcy Levy and Shaun Murphy and are given a chance to rehearse their numbers, the Levy’s gentle “Something Is Wrong With My Baby” and Murphy’s loud and boisterous “Steppin’ Out.”
Clapton plays a few notes of “Badge” while he’s talking to the engineers about the sound levels, then starts the band into the set’s opening number “Everybody Ought To Make A Change.” The rehersal is more guitar heavy than the actual performance that night with empahsis upon the slide guitar. The tape ends with Clapton asking the sound engineer “How’s the sound, Michael?”
Scottish Ramblin’ is a great Beano effort worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)