A Drunkard’s Night (Be Twisted! BTCD-013)
Hampton Beach Coliseum, Hampton, VA – September 28th, 1974
(77:56): Tell The Truth, I Shot The Sheriff, Little Rachel, Willie And The And Jive / Get Ready, Singing The Blues, Badge, Blues Power, Sail On, Mainline Florida
Eric Clapton’s comeback tour in 1974 was plagued with inconsistent performances. Some were legendary while others were sloppy, drunken affairs. August 4th in Palm Beach, Florida was the last show before a break lasting almost two months before the tour reconvened on September 28th in Hampton, Virginia. In addition to the band on his early summer tour is vocalist Marcy Levy who would remain with Clapton for many years. And this would be the final tour with Yvonne Elliman.
A Drunkard’s Night is a single silver pressed title documenting a very good soundboard fragment of just over an hour of the show. The late summer 1974 shows still began with the two or three song acoustic set including “Smile,” “Easy Now,” “Let It Grow” and “Can’t Find My Way Home.” But this tape omits them and probably other songs such as “Badge,” and/or “Let It Rain.”
The tape opens in the middle of “Tell The Truth” and Clapton having an argument with the equipment. “The whole show / is passing me by” he sings and shouts “feedback, ya cunt!” Eight minutes the song lasts and Clapton plays some interesting solos at the end, full of feedback and distortion. In general, the set has a loose, drunken and nervous feel to it. He even forgets a few lines in “I Shot The Sheriff” and plays a very strange solo.
Clapton sings a few verses of “Sweet Little Liza” during “Little Rachel” and the long “Willie And The Hand Jive / Get Ready” medley is a smutty as ever. The organ is given a heavier presence in this performance. Following is the first live performance of “Singing The Blues.”
It was just recorded for There’s One In Every Crowd earlier that month. The studio cut is a curt three and a half minutes, but this version is almost ten minutes long with an extended blues jam in the middle. At the end it segues into a sloppy version of “Badge.”
The second long jam of the night is “Sail On.” This is loose jam on “Honey Bee” with references to Robert Johnson’s “Stones In My Passway” (“I’ve got a bird that whistles / I’ve got birds that sing”) and many other dirges. Clapton sings a bit of “I get around” during the chorus of “Mainline Florida” and tells the audience “good night” at the end, so it seems “Layla” is not the set closer.
A Drunkard’s Night is an interesting release but certainly not essential for an understanding of an important year in Clapton’s life. Be Twisted!, a minor Japanese label who released a handful of titles, didn’t tamper with the tape and included good packaging for the show.