Affirmation: Two Nights At Berkeley (Scorpio DD-701118-19)
Affirmation is a collection of three discs plus two bonus discs covering Derek And The Dominos’ two nights in Berkeley delivering every available document of these shows.
Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – November 18th, 1970
Disc 1 (62:36): Got To Get Better In A Little While, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Tell The Truth, Presence Of The Lord, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Everyday I Have The Blues
The first disc contains the tape for the first night on November 18th. The only other release was EC Shuffle Blues (BS-002-1DD-3) on the Buffalo Stomp label which contains the hour-long tape plus the Chuck Berry medley from the following evening. Regarding the sound quality, it is taped from a considerable distance from the stage.
It is thin, hissy and uneven with the bass sounding the loudest in the mix with the guitar and vocals behind it, the drums sounding like echoes and finally the piano buried deep in the mix and audible during more quiet passages.
The taper paused the machine between most of the tracks to save space and flipped the tape over at 5:35 in “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. The quality decreases by “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” to the end sounding much more distant and difficult to hear. The tape ends right at the final note of that song. Given that most shows averaged about ninety minutes a good half hour of this show is still missing.
“Got To Get Better In A Little While” was the most common opener and is used for the first night in Berkeley. “Blues Power” segues into the much slower “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. It is a good show with “Why Does Love” being the highlight with very smooth soloing from Clapton underscored by Whitlock on the piano. It is a shame this show was not better recorded or more complete since it sounds like a great show.
Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – November 19th, 1970
Disc 2 (46:22): Intro., Chuck Berry medley, Got To Get Better In A Little While, Key To The Highway, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Stormy Monday
Disc 3 (58:04): Tell The Truth, Little Wing, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Let It Rain, Mean Old World
Bonus cdr 1 (44:55): Chuck Berry medley, Got To Get Better In A Little While, Key To The Highway, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Tell The Truth
Bonus cdr 2 (44:30): Mean Old World, Little Wing, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Let It Rain
Discs two and three reveal a brand new tape source for the second, and better known, show in Berkeley the following night. This was produced by two young ladies in the auditorium that night and begins with the band tuning up and the girls talking about their tape. The two talk periodically between numbers but not during the music.
This source is more complete that the older and has the correct running order with the medley as the opening number (some older releases placed it at the end) and “Mean Old World” is the encore instead of after “Tell The Truth”. WGPSEC speculates in the Journeymen article about the musical fragment after “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” being either “Stormy Monday” or “Everyday I Got The Blues”.
This tape is not cut and reveals the song to be the former (good call on the author’s part!) The sound quality of the new source is good to very good but more distant and fuzzy than the older one with hints of distortion in louder parts. The quality dips a little bit during “Why Does Love” and there are strange squeals on the tape during that track and “Stormy Monday”.
There is a cut after “Let It Rain” and the tape cuts in at the very beginning of “Mean Old World” which runs for about three and a half minutes before cutting out. This isn’t the best sounding tape, but it isn’t worse than most other Derek And The Dominos tapes circulating. This is a fun, exciting and historic show where the band is extremely loose and when the ears adjust to the fidelity the concert more than makes up for any of the tape’s deficiencies.
Beginning the show with “Little Queenie”, a number the Stones played the previous year, sets a raucous tone which continues for almost two hours. But the show is most well known for Neal Shoen’s participation for almost half the show.
“I’d like to bring on a guy named Neal to play guitar for a little while…are you ready? I think he’ll come on after this number. It’s called ‘Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” Clapton says. After that song there is some tuning as Clapton introduces Schon before they play “Stormy Monday”. After “Stormy Monday” there are shouts from the audience for Neal’s guitar to be turned up in volume. In a recent interview he says, “ I started hanging out a lot with Gregg Rolie,” Schon recalls.
“I was cutting school a lot and playing music. It just kind of snowballed. (Eric) Clapton met me one night, and then he asked me to go play with him and Derek and the Dominos at Berkeley Community Theater. And then he asked me to join his band that night. And then the next day Santana asked me to join him. I wasn’t really quite ready to move away from my family to England at that point, even though I would have loved to have done that.”
The two bonus cdrs are a remastered version of the older source which was released most recently by ARMS. This actually sounds a bit better than that release and is perhaps the best sounding part of Affirmation. It is a trade off between the two.
The cover of the slip disc and the photos inside are well known Elliott Landy Fillmore East shots. This is an interesting release with a new tape source but the assessment remains the same. It is good for diehard fans but there are better sounding Derek And The Dominos tapes out there.