25 July 2008, slowhander @ 3:41 am
The Magnificent Seven (Mid Valley MVR 290/291)
Koseinenkin Kaikan Dai Hall, Osaka, Japan – November 5, 1974
Disc1. Let it Grow – Can’t Find My Way Home – Better Make It Through Today – Tell the Truth – Driftin’ Blues – Get Ready
EC arrived in Japan for the first time in October 1974 to play five shows to probably the quietest audience in the world. The first three shows took place in Tokyo and the last two in Osaka. The Magnificent Seven captures the first one of the Osaka shows from the soundboard and, even showing some hiss, is very good for the era. This show is previously available on the Hanaten Sources box set that Tarantura put out some months ago. The source Tarantura used was a different one since it is an audience recording but in return we get the encore – Singin’ The Blues - which is not present in the soundboard source.
This show may feature a similar setlist to the shows from the US leg of the Tour that took place in the previous months, but EC’s mood is a whole different one probably helped by a much quieter atmosphere in Japan. EC may still have been drunk but this point is not as evident as it used to be while touring the States a few months before.
Most of the songs in the setlist are either taken from the 461 Ocean Boulevard album or are songs that would be found on the EC Was Here album to be released some months later (using material recorded during the US leg of the tour in the Summer). However, it is of great interest to listen to one of the first live renditions ever of “Better Make It Through Today”, a melodic blues tune which sees EC in acoustic mode, and which would not be released officially until the There’s One In Every Crowd album came out the following year.
The songs that would appear on There’s One In Every Crowd are Charles Brown’s “Driftin’ Blues”, and Blind Faith’s “Presence Of The Lord” and “Can’t Find My Way Home”. I always thought it was more than adequate for EC to play these songs live at that point of his life – they just fit someone who emerged from a long period of sorrow like EC did.
“Tell The Truth” opens the electric show and as usual, seems to be more a jam than a song. A great version of “Driftin’ Blues”, including a couple of key changes, comes next to early steal the show. “Willie & The Hand Jive” may be too long at 7+ minutes and it may sound uninspired at times but after a second listen, some good guitar work is found. EC and Yvonne Elliman share vocals on the seductive “Get Ready”. At one point Yvonne sings “I want to get revenge on your sinful sins / I got to get you back for what you did back then” and EC replies “And now you’ve got it back, life is misery” and then quips “How many more days to go?” much to Yvonne’s delight!
A rousing version of “Let It Rain” opens disc2 and after quite a long break, EC hits the first notes to “Layla”, immediately recognized by the audience, which finally gets mad for a while! “Layla” sees a great guitar duel between EC and George Terry but it soon becomes kind of tedious with a more than a 3-minute repetitive endings. A solid “Presence Of The Lord” comes next. If I’m not wrong, this song is the first song EC ever wrote all the lyrics for. It is deep and sure meant a lot to EC when he wrote it. The guitar solo that is played in the middle of the song seems kind of buried in the mix and Jamie Oldaker’s drums make it difficult to listen to it.
“Sheriff” is a pleasure to listen to in its live form, as it now features the guitar solo that was denied to us on the album and “Badge” may have been sung better some other times on the tour but I doubt too many solos better than the ones we get here were performed that year!! “All I Have To Do Is Dream” closes the show in a sweet way until EC plays some strident notes at the very end, leaving you a kind of bitter taste…
The cover to Mid Valley’s The Magnificent Seven features the same picture that was actually used for the 461 Ocean Boulevard album cover except for an UFO that can now be seen next under the famous palm tree. (The man who used to own the house on 461 Ocean Boulevard that EC had stayed in while recording his comeback album planted that tree in the 1930s. And when he died in late 1974, the palm tree suddenly died as well.)
The Magnificent Seven 2CD set includes a shrink down mini-tour programme from the Japan tour and is a title that is absolutely recommended.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)