Eric Clapton – Dress Code (Mid Valley MVR-298/299)

Dress Code (Mid Valley MVR-298/299)

Stadhalle, Bremen, Germany – April 20th, 1983

Disc 1:  Tulsa Time, I Shot The Sheriff, Lay Down Sally, Worried Life Blues, Let It Rain, Double Trouble, Sweet Little Lisa, After Midnight

Disc 2:  The Shape You’re In, Wonderful Tonight, Blues Power, Rambling On My Mind / Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Cocaine, Layla, Further On Up The Road

Dress Code is a release of the popular Bremen 1983 multi-track recording.  The earliest release featuring this tape can be found on vinyl when it was featured on the first disc of the two LP Double Trouble, paired with the July 15, 1986 Birmingham show. 

CD releases of this show include Back From the Edge (Silver Rarities SIRA 179/180), Trouble On My Mind (Pilgrim), the popular No One Else (Bell Bottom – BB07/08) and No One Else (Stardust – SP-R-303) released in 2000 which many consider to be an improvement over the Bell Bottom Release.  Other titles have part of this show including The Blue Sheriff (Golden Stars – GS 1042) with thirteen tracks, Live in Bremen 1983  (International Pop IPP001) with twelve tracks, and Layla (Grapefruit PAL 018) with “Lay Down Sally.” 

One of the worst releases of this tape is Through The Years Vol. 1 (Banana – Ban-005-A).  Featuring only eleven songs, this is sourced from a high generation copy of the tape and should be avoided.  Bremen is also found in the great box set Wonderful Tonight – On Stage 1983 (The Swingin’ Pig Records TSP-CD-196-3/4).  This is a six disc set with the February 11th, 1978 Santa Monica and the April 22nd, 1985 Richmond, Virginia tapes. 

It was first issued in a big box housing each individual show and was subsequently re-released last year in a basic six-disc fatboy jewel case.  Compared to the Swingin’ Pig Release, Mid Valley is not mastered as loud breaking a tendency of releases from the far east to push the sonic boundaries of tolerance.  Dress Code is really nice sounding and the recording is incredibly detailed and enjoyable.     

The liner notes state:  “Eric’s 1983 tour is often overlooked.  However, time has been kind to that tour.  He was still using Blackie, but he didn’t yet have the biting sound of later years.  This was largely due to his choice of amplifiers, but that small issue aside, he was playing well, rejuvenated by a new contract with Warner Brothers and a new album, Money And Cigarettes.  The band was tight with a solid rhythm section featuring Duck Dunn and Jamie Oldaker.  Albert Lee and Chris Stainton completed this stellar lineup. 

“Highlights included extended versions of Double Trouble and I Shot The Sheriff.  But, the real gem was the blues medley which would consist of various Muddy Waters numbers that would change nightly as the mood suited.

“This recording is the first digital recording by Eric Clapton and is sourced from the genuine master tape.  I think you will agree that the quality is wonderful tonight.”

Touring for Money And Cigarettes began in Seattle in February, continued through the UK before beginning on the continent with this show.  This was the first show in Germany in almost four years and the first in Bremen for eight.  When the tour begin several songs from the new album were in the set list including “Crazy Country Hop,” “Pretty Girl,” and “I’ve Got A Rock And Roll Heart.” 

But for Europe the set list was filled with the classics and in Bremen “The Shape You’re In” is the only new song.  Either they lost faith in the material or they wanted to reintroduce the hits after being away for so long.  “Tulsa Time” is the opening song and is followed by “I Shot The Sheriff” which features an excellent guitar duet between Clapton and Albert Lee.  In “Worried Life Blues” both Lee and Chris Stainton on keyboards take solos with introductions by Clapton. 

Mid Valley rightly single out “Double Trouble” for particular praise since this version lasts more than ten minutes and produces a classic jam.  Lee sings “Sweet Little Lisa,” a single he played on for Dave Edmunds.  In the latter half of the show “Blues Power” is short but heats up half way through and is an adrenaline rush. 

“Rambling On My Mind/Have You Ever Loved A Woman” is a twelve minute long jam session and is notable for Clapton shouting out the chords:  “G,” “A,” “C.”  It makes one wonder if it says it for affect or if they truly didn’t know the chords.  “Layla” is seven minutes long and the second half coda sounds very upbeat and happy with Stainton playing cute little fills on the keyboards. 

Dress Code is limited to five hundred numbered copies and comes with a miniature reproduction of the Geld Und Zigarette tourbook.  It is a good title that offers a viable alternative to the Swingin’ Pig set.         

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