Quiet Gymnasium (Tarantura TCDEC-28-1, 2)
Sogo-taikukan, Kitakyusyu, Japan – October 27, 1975
Disc 1: Opening, Layla, Eyesight to the Blind, That’s All Right, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?, Can’t Find My Way Home, Key To The Highway
Disc 2: Interval, I Shot The Sheriff, Little Wing, Further On Up the Road, The Sun Is Shining, Tell the Truth, Let It Rain
Quiet Gymnasium documents a brand new tape source for Eric Clapton’s October 27th, 1975 gig in Kitakyusyu, Japan. Since last year the Tarantura label have been releasing previously uncirculated tapes from Mr. Peach and the Sound Brothers, two prolific tapers in Japan and they’ve been a mixed blessing. One the one hand, very interesting tapes of poorly documented shows are finally available to collectors. The actual releases have been a mixed bag since Tarantura seems to not understand the expectations of Clapton collectors, resulting in problems with the speed and overzealous remastering that detract what are otherwise very valuable documents. The Kitakyusyu show exists already in a fair sounding tape that is also incomplete (missing the encore “Let It Rain”) but because of the sound quality has never been available on a commercial release.
Tarantura utilize a Mr. Peach recording on this title. It is an improvement over the older recording ranking in the good range. The taper was still far from the stage and there is evident distortion in the bass during louder passages. The instruments also tend to get lost in the mush in many songs. Quiet Gymnasium is an appropriate title because the audience are certainly very quiet during the performance helping the sound quality. The tape runs only about .5% too fast and is hardly noticeable. And thankfully Tarantura didn’t attempt any heavy handed remastering, so this is devoid of the crunchiness found on many other of their releases.
Clapton reveales a singleness of purpose. The first forty minutes of the show pass by with no comment with he and the band delivering a tight performance. The show opens with “Layla,” the most common opener in 1975 and is followed by “Eyesight To The Blind.” This song was more commonly used as an encore and it’s placement very early in the set is a nice surprise. “That’s Allright” is a ten minute long cover of the old Jimmy Rogers tune. The old Derek And The Dominos number “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” is a tour-de-force at twelve minutes. “This is a song that Eric wrote with Steve Winwood on the Blind Faith album” Yvonne Elliman says before “Can’t Find My Way Home.”
The “interval” that begins disc two is a thirty second pause before Clapton introduces the next song “I Shot The Sheriff.” After “Further On Up The Road” Clapton babbles a bit and introduces Elliman for the next song by mistake. He laughs it off and corrects himself by introducing Marcy Levy who sings “The Sun Is Shining” (“Teach Me To Be Your Woman” is printed on the artwork, but that is an error). The bass is very distorted in this song enveloping the vocals in a haze of fuzz. A nine minute version of “Tell The Truth” closes the set and after a cut in the tape the band comes back for the encore “Let It Rain.” The beginning of the song is distorted significantly, sounding as if the coat of the taper was covering the microphone, but it clears up in the first minute. Quiet Gymnasium is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve and is limited to one hundred thirty copies worldwide. Since this is the commercial debut of this show and is one of the better Clapton Tarantura releases, this is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)