Applause For The Harlots (Beano-024)
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – April 28th, 1977
Disc 1 (66:02): Hello Old Friend, Sign Language, Alberta, All Our Past Times, Tell The Truth, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Can’t Find My Way Home, Crossroads, I Shot The Sheriff
Disc 2 (44:06): Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, Further On Up The Road, Stormy Monday, Willie And The Hand Jive, Layla, All I Have To Do Is Dream
Eric Clapton tour the UK over nine days in late April 1977. Ending with three shows in London, two at the Hammersmith Odeon and one at the Rainbow Theater, these were recorded for a possible live album.
The Hammersmith shows have been released before from soundboard recordings. The April 28th, the second of the two, was previously released on Blues You Can’t Loose (Traditional Line TL1322) which has “Further On Up The Road,” “Stormy Monday,” “Nobody Knows You,” “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Key To the Highway.”
Applause For The Harlots is the first silver release of the entire April 28th show from the audience recording. It is a good but distant recording that is very much treble oriented and noticable deterioration at the end of “Layla” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” It is musically complete with cuts after “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Nobody Knows You,” “Further On Up The Road” and “Willie And The Hand Jive.”
This is a sterling example of Clapton’s mid-seventies alcohol fueled shows. As the night goes on its sounds as if he’s hitting the bottle hard. His jokes become more obscure, his words are slurred more, and the playing becomes looser.
He begins the show with three songs on the acoustic guitar backed by the band, something he did when he toured three years before. While it is an interesting way to begin, going against the common practice of beginning the show with a bang, it creates an appealing, sunny mood.
The electric set begins with “All Our Past Times.” “Tell The Truth” is the first long improvisation of the night. Clapton plays a hypnotic guitar in the middle and the female vocalists are put to good use by them taking the latter verses. “Can’t Find My Way Home” is Elliman’s solo number.
“Crossroads,” which follows, is referred to as a “vain” song and the lyrics are changed slightly to include: “Sun’s Goin’ Down / Not Gonna Catch Me Here Sun’s Goin’ Down / Not Gonna Catch Me Here Ain’t Got Nobody / Nobody Seems to Care.”
After the song Clapton becomes a bit lost and intends to introduce Marcy Levy for her solo number. He forgets “I Shot The Sheriff” comes next and interrupt himself during the intro., saying: “I’d like to introduce one of the most wonderful people I ever met in my whole life, ugh, ME!”
He does get it correct when he introduces Marcy Levy for “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out,” calling her “one of the most wonderful people in the world” which is, according to Levy, and old blues number.
“Further On Up The Road” is the second very long jamming instrumental of the night. Before getting into “Stormy Monday” Clapton sounds apologetic as he says, “we‘re gonna do another number that won’t make you jump about unless you’re peculiar or strange.” The slow blues is improved by Levy when she comes in to sing the final verse to tremendous applause.
Everyone lightens up for the rest of the show. “Willie And The Hand Jive” is played again, but without the slutty “Get Ready” section from three years before. But during the improvisation Clapton shouts out “harlots” and after the song introduces the singers, saying: “How about a round of applause for the harlots. What a bunch of tarts!!!” The tourography website says Ronnie Lane was a guest vocalist and guitarist in the number. There is a moment of unexplained applause in the middle of the piece which could be his entrance, but it’s not obvious from the recording.
A long, drunken version of “Layla” segues into the more quiet Everly Brothers cover “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Beano package this in a double slimline jewel case with their tasteful inserts. This is a good release of an overall enjoyable show.