Toledo 1979 (Beano-047)
Toledo Sports Arena, Toledo, OH – June 4th, 1979
Disc 1 (46:24): Opening, Badge, If I Don’t Be There By Morning, Worried Life Blues, Tulsa Time, Early In The Morning, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Disc 2 (66:12): Crossroads, Double Trouble, Setting Me Up, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine, Layla, Further On Up The Road
Eric Clapton played almost fifty dates in the summer of 1979 to support Backless, his latest album. Toledo 1979 is the first silver pressing of the June 4th show in the Toledo Sports Arena. Beano utilize a fair to good audience recording of the event. It has significant distance from the stage and the audience are very loud and boisterous. They never seem to stop shouting at the stage.
None of them are particularly close to the tape recorder thankfully, so it really adds to the live atmosphere of the performance. There are several non-intrusive cuts on the tape and it becomes slightly deteriorated by the end of the show, starting in “Lay Down Sally.” It’s not too bad, but is noticeable. Beano use a remaster of the cassette recording which is speed corrected with the mid range raised and bass reduced to achieve a greater balance.
The US Backless tour is not well represented on silver disc. Except for the Cleveland soundboard two nights before Toledo, there isn’t much in circulation because much attention is focused upon the Slowhand tours in the previous year and the Just One Night tour of Japan following the US tour.
Clapton toured with his backing band of Carl Radle, Jamie Oldaker and Dick Sims for almost five years (essentially since Clapton started his solo career in earnest). The “American” band jelled into an impressive outfit who could get into tight jams and improvisations.
These June dates in the US would be their last with Clapton. They would be replaced by his new “English” band later that summer, creating a new dynamic for Clapton’s music. Each band have their strengths, but the loose improvisational feel that was the American band’s strength was definitely lost.
Also of note is the addition of Albert Lee on second guitar. He takes over many of the solo spots (as did George Terry on previous tours) and plays his own songs. He would survive the cut and would continue with Clapton for many more years.
Toledo is a great example of the band’s prowess onstage. At the start, the tape picks up Clapton’s simple greeting to the audience before starting the show with “Badge.” A straight forward version, the show continues with a joyful rendition of “If I Don’t Be There By Morning” with Lee taking the country solo in the middle.
But, as the show moves on, there are many instances where they stretch out the songs and have much fun. “Worried Life Blues” features a great improvisation in the middle between Lee, Clapton, and Dick Sims’ piano, playing the melody off of one another. “Early In The Morning” has a funny wild west saloon feel.
“Crossroads” sounds strange with Clapton’s vocals off of the beat with the rhythm section. It gives a strong feeling of being unfulfilled, as if something is missing. Sims plays a loud piano and duels beautifully with Clapton in the song’s middle improvisation before taking a long boogie solo himself.
“Double Trouble” has a tremendous improvisation in the middle. Sims especially carries the song into a jazzy melody sounding very similar to Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance.” Hearing the styles develop from one another provides the highlight of the evening.
Albert Lee sings “Setting Me Up” and they follow with a perfunctory “Lay Down Sally.” Before singing “Wonderful Tonight” Clapton dedicates it to “Albert and Karen, who are reportedly getting married sometime this week.” It’s nice to hear him make such a person touch this late in his career.
“Layla” closes the show and “Further On Up The Road” serves as the encore, one of his most frequent in the seventies.
Toledo 1979 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with artwork reminiscent of the Backless design. Beano use pictures of Clapton, both bearded and clean shaven, on the artwork. Despite the limitations of the sound, this is a really good release by Beano and is very much recommended.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)