Backless Frankfurt 1978 (Right Stuff RS-21003/4)
Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany – November 11th, 1978
Disc 1 (63:38): Layla, Worried Life Blues, Badge, Standing Around Crying (with Muddy Waters), Key To The Highway, If I Don’t Be There By Morning, Wonderful Tonight, Tulsa Time
Disc 2 (33:47): Early In The Morning, Cocaine, Double Trouble
Eric Clapton’s sixth solo album Backless, the anticipated sequel to Slowhand, finally was released in early November 1978. He took off on tour almost the day it was released, touring Europe for a month before taking a break before Christmas.
Frankfurt was only the fifth show. It was captured in an excellent dynamic stereo audience recording with very nice atmosphere. The running time is a bit short, but it is complete. Clapton streamlined the touring band by dropping the female vocalists. The shows ran just about ninety minutes on this tour.
The first silver pressing can be found on Standin’ Round Crying (ARMS-47/48 PR) but with the wrong date, listed as December 11th instead of November 11th. Backless Frankfurt 1978 has similar sound quality and the correct date on the artwork.
The only flaw is that the tape runs a bit too slow. It could be the drag in the cavernous venue, but it would have been good if the label had corrected the pitch on the recording. If they had, this would have been the definitive recording from this tour.
Clapton’s performance is fantastic. Even though this is the Backless tour, only three songs from the album are played. And neither of them are “Promises,” the first and most successful single. (In fact he’s never played the song live).
He starts off the show with “Layla” which the audience, filled with American GIs, really like, and follows with “Worried Life Blues.”
“Badge” has a similar funky feel as it did during the summer. Afterwards there is a pause in the music. Clapton says “with your kind consideration we’d like to have a sit in and play with some other fellows.” They start “Standing Around Crying” and judging by the applause, Muddy Waters comes onstage about two minutes into the song, singing the third verse. They take their time, filling the space with massive blues melodies.
“Tulsa Time” fares best of the new songs. “Early In The Morning” is most polished, however, since he has been playing it love since before the album’s release. “Cocaine” is the set closer and the encore is a thirteen minute jam on “Double Trouble.”
Backless Frankfurt 1978 comes packaged in a double slimline jewel case. Some copies have a black slip cover as well. This is certainly an excellent concert with wonderful sound. But a definitive release with the speed corrected is still needed.