Eric Clapton – Boston 1974 (Beano-020)


 Boston 1974 (Beano-020)

Boston Garden, Boston, MA – July 12, 1974

Disc 1 (43:41):  Opening, Smile, Let It Grow, Can’t Find My Way Home, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Member Introduction, Layla, Presence Of The Lord

Disc 2 (54:02):  Steady Rollin’ Man, Mainline Florida, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Badge, Little Queenie

Documentation for Eric Clapton’s June 12, 1974 Boston Garden appearance first surfaced in the seventies.  Two vinyl releases, Slowhand In Boston (Ze Anonym Plattenspieler ZAP 7880) with seven tracks, and Hand Jive (Ze Anonym Plattenspiel ZAP 7884) with three surfaced using a fair to poor audience recording.  In the latter days a clear but bland an incomplete soundboard recording surfaced for this date. 

It contains the set except for the final number “Little Queenie,” cutting off at “Badge.”  Titles with this tape include Boston Gardens (ARMS 18/19PR), Smile (LUN 81), Slowhand Plays In The Boston Gardens (Killing Floor KF 98011/2) and Clapton Is Mad Dog (Akashic AKA-17-1/2) which also includes “Mainline Florida” and “Let It Rain” from November 26 1974 Hamburg show. 

Beano’s new release comes from a newly surfaced, complete mono audience recording.  It is very close to the stage and captures the dynamics of the performance perfectly with a terrific live sound.  The tape lineage (for those who think this is important) is Sony TC-55 with built in condenser mic -> Master Cassette -> DAT -> CD and mastered by Steve Hopkins. 

Beano applied their subtle, low key mastering if at all and the beauty of the recording shines through without any elaboration on the label’s fault.  This is a new trend by Beano after their overproduced titles from years back, and bucking the general trend of discs coming out of Japan that have the levels boosted very high.  This tape is good also because it presents the complete show for the first time with the encore that is missing on the soundboard.  The taper was a bit of a distance from the stage but was able to produce a good document. 

The Boston audience, who could sometimes be very rowdy, are well behaved throughout the show and don’t make too many noises.  There is a cut after “Get Ready” but is otherwise musically complete.  In a generally uneven tour littered with drunken and sloppy performances, Boston is distinguished by being one of the tighter and more exciting performances beginning with “Smile.” 

Afterwards he introduces “Let It Grow” by saying, “thank you.  That’s one familiar the album after the next.  This next one is from the album which is before the album after the next.”   This is one of Clapton’s most glorious creations with the shimmering acoustic guitars and the rising mellotron motifs emulating the growth in the lyrics.  The acoustic set ends with the Blind Faith song “Can’t Find My Way Home” featuring Yvonne Elliman on vocals. 

“This is a new one but an old one, it’s new and old” he says before the cover of Johnny Otis’ “Willie And The Hand Jive.”  This is segued with “Get Ready” as is the custom for the tour, but this pair were usually played later in the set.  Someone on stage blows a police whistle at 2:05 in “Get Ready.”  Some of the audience close to the recorder are begging for “Layla” since the beginning of the show and they get it after Clapton introduces the band. 

A five-minute version of the first half is segued directly with “Presence Of The Lord,” which serves as the song’s “coda” section.  There seems to be some delay afterwards and a cut in the tape is used to divide the show into halves at this point.  “Well, here we are again” Clapton says and as the band start “Steady Rollin’ Man” he says, “this is for all you Robert Johnson fans.”

The band hit a nice grove over the eight minutes of the piece and someone blows the whistle during the guitar solo.  The same whistle is heard at 3:52 and 4:50-5:10 in the following song “Mainline Florida.”  The crashing chords of “Blues Power” follow and the band hit another blues laden groove for nine minutes before that segues directly with “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.” 

In fact the entire thirty-minute segment of the show is performed as one long jam session with Clapton and Terry giving intermittent nods to the actual songs in between their mass soloing.  The band finally takes a break and tune their instruments before the final song of the set “Badge.”  The finale is almost ten minutes long and contains a monstrous duet between Clapton and Terry, going back and forth with such excitement that, not only does someone throw a pack of firecrackers on the stage during the performance, but lets off two M80s afterwards. 

A six minute version of “Little Queenie” is the encore and serves for all manner of fun onstage and Clapton, Elliman and Levy go back and forth with witty banter.  Clapton changes the lyrics several times:  “well there she is again / standin’ over by the record machine / well she looks like a model / on the cover … well, I wouldn’t go that far / but she’s too cute / to be a minute over a hermaphrodite.”  There is a minute of applause after the song as the house lights go up to boos from the crowd. 

Boston 1974 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with black and white photos on the glossy paper inserts.  It is limited to only two hundred copies, and is an overall improvement over the previous Beano release Dallas 1976.  This label has been setting a standard for Clapton releases for years and this is another one worth having. 

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