Eric Clapton – Blackbushe (Beano-004)


Blackbushe (Beano-004)

Blackbushe Aerodrome, Camberley, Surrey, England – July 15th, 1978
Disc 1 (44:24):  The Core, Worried Life Blues, Wonderful Tonight, Lay Down Sally, Rodeo Man, Fool’s Paradise, Cocaine, Double Trouble

Disc 2 (42:19):  Nobody Knows When You’re Down And Out, Badge, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Key To The Highway, Layla, Bottle Of Red Wine, Forever Young (Bob Dylan w/Eric Clapton)

During the summer in 1978 Eric Clapton supported Bob Dylan for three big festivals in Europe. The first two, were on July 23rd at Stadion Feyenoord in Rotterdam and July 1st at Zeppelinfeld in Nürnberg. The third, and by far the largest, was on July 23rd at the Blackbushe Aeorodome in Surrey. With an estimated 200,000 attendees, The Picnic is one of the largest rock festivals in England’s history.  It also marked Dylan’s final show of the Europan tour and Clapton’s only show in England in 1978.   

Blackbushe is an early Beano title and is the first silver release of the entire Clapton set.  The three songs he played with Dylan later that evening, “Forever Young,” “Changing Of The Guards” and “The Times They Are A-Changin'” can be found on three other Dylan silver releases, The Picnic At Blackbushe (Hollow Horn Records HH1577), Blackbushe (Wanted Man Music WMM 24/25/26) and Blackbushe 1978 (Thinman-018/019).

Beano tweaked and remastered the tape heavily with the audience applause sounding tinny. There are also fluctuations in the quality that is common to tapes made in an outdoor venue.  However, the tweaks made to the tape are a minor concern and it is an enjoyable show to listen to. 

The order of the artists that day ran Merger, Lake, Graham Parker & The Rumour, Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading and Bob Dylan. It is curious that Clapton wasn’t in the pre-Dylan slot but instead played earlier.  He plays a set similar to that used on the spring tour but with “Peaches And Diesel,” “Let It Rain” and “Crossroads,” all normal additions, omitted.   

The set is identical to the latter half of the US tour with “The Core” serving as the opener.  According to a review written by Phil Sutcliffe, “‘The Core’… put the band into immediate focus as they growled around the central riff before Levy and Clapton began chewing the vocal cud between them.”  The Slowhand track is an excellent set opener, but this would be the final time it would be played live.

“We’d like to sing a slow blues in C now”  Clapton says before “Worried Life Blues.”  Sutcliffe’s review in Sounds mentions this part of the show when he writes:  “Clapton’s guitar, resonant with occasional twangy edges, contrasted well with Terry’s milder tone and they worked the same trick again on ‘Lay Down Sally’ which rolled along with a positively lascivious gait to judge from the energetic gyrations of two liggerettes in front of me.  By the time they got to ‘Cocaine’ the band were in prime condition with Jamie Oldaker’s drumming filling every corner of the song. Even ‘Wonderful Tonight’ where the sentiments – sweet and tender – were altogether different, had a sure poised presentation.” (Sounds, 22 July 1978).

Marcy Levy sings “Fool’s Paradise,” the first of her two numbers that evening.  “Double Trouble” is played at a quick tempo with a lot of energy.  Afterwards, Levy has her second number, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.”

Before “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” Clapton laughs:  “we’re gonna pay our tribute to the star of the show.”  They play the slowed down, reggae arrangement that Dylan also was playing that year.  The set ends with a short, five minute version of “Layla.”  Their only encore is oldie “Bottle Of Red Wine” from his first solo album Eric Clapton.

Beano include “Forever Young” from Bob Dylan’s set as a bonus track.  There was room for all three of the Dylan songs, but this is the only one where Clapton is mentioned by name.  Blackbushe is an early release by Beano, released when they were still issuing titles in limited, numbered editions.  Since this is the only silver with the full Blackbushe set available, it is de facto definitive.  But the improvement in the sound quality really makes it worth having. 

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