Drug And Paris Night 1983 (Mainstream MAST-016/017)
Hippodrome de Pantin, Paris, France – April 24th, 1983
Disc 1 (55:51): Tulsa Time, I Shot the Sheriff, Lay Down Sally, Worried Life Blues, Let it Rain, Double Trouble, Sweet Little Lisa, Key to the Highway, After Midnight, The Shape You’re In
Disc 2 (51:32): Wonderful Tonight, Blues Power, Rambling On My Mind, Have You Ever Loved a Woman, Cocaine, Layla, Further On Up the Road, Crossroads
At least one collector calls the early eighties Eric Clapton’s “lost years” which is marked by “occasional mediocrity, but also by often overlooked gems.” This assessment isn’t due to his live activity or studio output. Money And Cigarettes was issued early in the year and was followed by extensive tours of the US and Europe along with the ARMS shows later in the year.
But this could apply when one speaks about his artistic direction. On record and on stage Clapton went through a period (yet again) where he wanted to downplay his status as “guitar god” and replace it with song writer and performer.
Drug And Paris Night 1983 on Mainstream captures Clapton in the middle of his tour of Europe that spring. Several days after the more well known April 20th show in Bremen (and found on such releases as Dress Code (Mid Valley MVR-298/299)), Paris is one show where Clapton forgets that and makes a definitive statement of his guitar god status.
The recording is good to very good with nice clarity of the music. It lacks much dynamic range and comes off a rather flat, and there are minor speed problems in the latter portion of the show. There are several minor cuts including one that cuts the first couple notes off of “Double Trouble.” It is, however, and excellent document from the era and worth hearing.
Nothing had changed in the setlist. It’s a set based around the older classics with only one new song, “The Shape You’re In,” being played. Nothing else, not even “I’ve Got A Rock And Roll Heart,” is played.
“Tulsa Time” with the frantic slide guitar starts off the show followed by “I Shot The Sheriff.” There is an interesting rearrangement in “Lay Down Sally” with the boogie style rhythm. Albert Lee is given his slot in the show with “Sweet Little Lisa.”
Many of the older songs are played at much faster tempo than before, such as “After Midnight” and “Blues Power.” Clapton races through them to generate some enthusiasm in the audience. But one of the highlights is the new song “The Shape You’re In.” The repetitive rhythm and abrasive melody sound tremendous in the recording.
Clapton thanks the enthusiastic Paris audience with two encores, “Further On Up The Road” and “Crossroads.” Mainstream utilize very clean packaging with several publicity photos from the era. Generally speaking, the Bremen show is the definitive one to have from this tour since it has the best sound quality. Paris is worth having despite the limitations of the tape for the creative and incendiary performance.