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Eric Clapton – A Legend In His Own Time (Tarantura TCDEC-9)

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A Legend In His Own Time (Tarantura TCDEC-9)

City Park Stadium, New Orleans, LA – July 31st, 1974

Disc 1:  Opening, Smile, Easy Now, Tell The Truth, Badge, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Hideaway, Layla

Disc 2:  Little Wing, I Shot The Sheriff, Blues Power, Let It Rain, Little Queenie

A Legend In His Own Time is Tarantura’s presentation of the newly surfaced audience recording from Clapton’s July 31st, 1974 New Orleans gig.  A spurious tape circulated before claiming to be from New Orleans on July 30th, but it proved to be a high generation of the Long Beach soundboard.  This release is authentic.  Also, given information from ticket stubs, the correct date is attributed on this release too.  Since the taper brought two tape decks with him, this is strictly speaking this is a mix of two different tape sourced edited to give a complete show.  On the whole this is a very good to excellent audience recording that is very clear.  The “Legs” Larry Smith introduction (“Here he is”) and Clapton’s opening words (“Here I am…trouble in store”) are unfortunately missing and the tape begins with Clapton saying “I can see you tonight”. 

There are some annoying dropouts and mic handling noises scattered throughout the course of the show beginning with one in the first song “Smile”.  Those who are more picky than others will have some problems listening to the complete show, but on the whole this is very listenable compared to other audience recordings from this tour and is a valuable, new document given general release on silver.  The concert itself is good although lacks some of the intensity of other performances.  The good thing is that Clapton stays sober throughout and doesn’t suffer any mishaps on stage.  “Smile” and “Easy Now” are the two more common acoustic openers for these shows and are employed here.  The first song in particular has a soft, romantic quality that comes through in this recording. 

“Tell The Truth” is a fifteen minute long epic and is the first, full band electric song of the evening.  There is a cut in the tape afterwards and the tape comes back at the beginning of “Badge”.  There is another cut after that song and “Willie And The Hand Jive” has major balance problems for the first minute or so before the tape becomes stable again.  The Otis song segues directly with “Get Ready” as is the custom of this tour and Elliman becomes very spirited singing the blatant sexual images scattered throughout.  At the song’s conclusion Clapton says, “This is one we wrote the other day called ‘fucked if I know!’”  This sounds like the results of a late night hotel jam session, being a basic 12-bar blues with the lyrics asking why the pretty woman treats him like a dog.  The song features the solo from ”Hideaway” which was played at the July 27th Davenport show and Tarantura lists it as such. 

The following song “Little Wing” contains the most serious tape problems becoming muffled part of the way through.  It sounds like the second tape source picks up with the next song “I Shot The Sheriff”.  It sounds more bright and sharp than the other, but there are some minor dropouts during the track.  The delivery is very good with both Clapton and George Terry playing an interesting duel in the song’s middle.  The first tape source cuts in afterwards for the final song of the set “Blues Power”.  Clapton plays the descending “Let It Rain” riff as an introduction and it lasts for ten minutes.  After that song there is a full four minutes of cheering including the taper blowing his police whistle several times very loudly (be prepared!). 

The first encore, hinted in the beginning of “Blues Power”, is “Let It Rain” followed by the Chuck Berry tune “Little Queenie”.  The band gets into ”Ol’ Man River” in the middle of the final encore as a tribute to playing in New Orleans.  The past year has seen the release of several previously uncirculated documents from Clapton’s first solo tour with the release of the Birmingham and Saint Louis soundboards.  Since Tarantura released the St Louis board last September, it was hoped New Orleans would also be from the board.  However this is a perfectly enjoyable recording and is a great addition to the recordings from this tour.  Empress Valley actually released this first on  Talkin’ About New Orleans And Saint Louis (MVR 292/293/294/295) on their Mid Valley label. 

A review of that title is forthcoming.  A Legend In His Own Time is limited to only two hundred numbered copies and comes packaged in a thick cardboard gatefold sleeve similar to The Saint Louis Blues and Viva Le Crossroads.  Given its catalogue number of nine, it looks as if Tarantura held it back for reasons unknown.  The bottom line is this is a good, but flawed, recording that which the label could have made better, but didn’t.  Tarantura’s packaging of the discs is nice, but the Mid Valley release 74 Talking ‘Bout New Orleans & St. Louis is superior and more affordable than this.

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