Blue Blood: RAH 1995 First Night (Beano-055)
Royal Albert Hall, London, England – February 19th, 1995
Disc 1 (65:54): Motherless Child, Malted Milk, From Four Until Late, How Long Blues, Kidman Blues, County Jail, I’m Gonna Cut Your Head, Forty-Four Blues, Blues All Day Long, Standin’ Around Cryin’, Hoochie Coochie Man, It Hurts Me Too, Blues Before Sunrise, Third Degree, Reconsider Baby, Sinner’s Prayer, Every Day I Have the Blues
Disc 2 (44:58): Early In The Morning, Someday After a While, I’m Tore Down, Have You Ever Loved Woman, Crosscut Saw, Five Long Years, Got My Mojo Workin’, Ain’t Nobody’s Business
After the September 1994 release of From The Cradle, Eric Clapton toured the US twice, playing both arena and intimate club dates. At the beginning of 1995, he brought the “Nothing But The Blues” tour to the UK. After warm up dates in Glasgow and Sheffield, he played twelve gigs at the Royal Albert Hall.
Blue Blood: RAH 1995 First Night documents the opening date utilizing an excellent audience recording. It’s the same source found on Blues In The Hall (RAH19295) but with upgraded clarity. Using a first generation tape, Beano boast about the dynamics, pointing out how it captures the echo and produces a superior live sound.
Regardless of the label’s rhetoric, this is a very nice recording. It’s as good as the first Paris show from April.
The basic structure of the show remains the same from the US tour. Clapton begins the show playing a couple of solo acoustic numbers before the rest of the band join in. Some of the songs played frequently on the US tour such as “Groaning The Blues” were dropped in favor of “Every Day I Have The Blues” and “Tore Down.”
He gives a rough chronological clinic on blues styles. Some of the songs can be found on the album, but others aren’t. He starts off with “Motherless Child” and, after welcoming back (?) everyone, follows with “Malted Milk,” which he recorded for “Unplugged” in 1992 and played live on that tour.
After “County Jail,” Clapton tells the audience that they’ll play “a song I just discovered the other day, by Homer Harris. “I’m Gonna Cut Your Head” was released in 1947 featuring Harris on vocal and Muddy Waters on guitar. It is an obscure tune, but one worthy to be resurrected.
“Standing Around Crying,” a song played back in 1978 during the Backless tour, receives a nice slide guitar solo in the middle. The audience, who are generally very quiet, become somewhat animated with the opening notes of “Hootchie Coochie Man” probably because it’s one of the few songs they recognize.
He gives an incendiary solo in “Early In The Morning.” He follows with a passionate version of “Someday After A While” which has his most adventurous playing of the entire evening.
After a catchy version of “I’m Torn Down,” he plays “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” in a softer arrangement compared to the rockier versions of the past. The set closes with a fun version of “Got My Mojo Workin'” and, after dropping “Crossroads,” plays the encore “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.”
The From The Cradle period is one of Clapton’s riskiest. Although the blues and blues covers have been the basis of his career, playing nothing but blues covers for two hours was a calculated risk which paid off. These are among the most freshest, and most fun, concerts to listen to.
Although some releases from this tour have been pressed (including Beano issuing the Kansas City and Phoenix shows on Blues In The USA (Beano-042)), this is the first London show to appear in quite some times. With the great concert and fantastic sound quality, this is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)