Eric Clapton – Eric Clapton And Friends Live On Blueberry Hill (Rothmans RM013/14)

Eric Clapton And Friends Live On Blueberry Hill (Rothmans RM013/14)

Royal Albert Hall, London, England – March 25, 2003

Disc 1 (45:26):  Knock on Wood, Reconsider Baby, Can’t Judge a Book, Blueberry Hill, Sweet Little Rock ‘n Roller, Stormy Monday, If Paradise Was Half as Nice, Good Golly Miss Molly, You Win Again, Got My Mojo Working

Disc 2 (48:57):  Hoochie Coochie Man, Whole Lotta Shakin’, Gin House, Five Long Years, Cocaine, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Layla, Little Queenie

2003 was another relatively quiet year for Eric Clapton.  He spent several months recording a new solo album of original material as well as a tribute disc to the songs of Robert Johnson. Eric participated in a few benefit concerts including UNICEF with John Mayall, Lincoln Center Jazz Foundation, and Pavarotti & Friends – SOS Iraq, the cancelled SOS to the World benefit on Robben Island  and the Teenage Cancer Trust with a tour of Japan in November to end the year.

The third annual charity concert series for the Teenage Cancer Trust was held at the Royal Albert Hall, London between  beginning with Coldplay on March 24th and ending with Madness on March 29th.  Eric Clapton And Friends Live On Blueberry Hillon Rothmans uses a distant but clear, atmospheric and loud audience recording of the entire set.  A second audience tape is used for the other silver pressed title featuring this show, Dry Your Eyes(Mid Valley 183/184).  Mid Valley is a bit closer to the stage but is boomier sounding, while Rothmans has more clarity and is clearly superior.

Teenage Cancer Trust is a charity that focuses on the needs of teenagers and young adults with cancer, leukaemia, Hodgkin’s and related diseases by providing specialist teenage units in NHS hospitals. The units are dedicated areas for teenage patients, who are involved in their concept and creation. Medical facilities on the units are colourful and vibrant environments, equipped with computers, TVs, game consoles – designed to be places where friends and family feel comfortable to visit.

To date, TCT has built 8 units in London (2 sites), Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester and is in discussion with an additional 15 trusts.  TCT anticipates that the concentration of medical expertise within these units can improve chances of recovery by 15%.  Units cost over £1 million each to build and TCT aims to complete at least 20 units in the UK so that every teenager and young adult with cancer in the UK has access to these facilities.

Joined by his band and Gary Brooker, Clapton plays a set heavily leaning on old blues and classic rock and roll cover tunes.  Some, such as “Stormy Monday” are familiar from his old setlists.  But what is great to hear are some of the other selections such as “Blueberry Hill,” a song that Clapton rarely covered in the past.  He plays some of his more familiar tunes by the end of the set with “Cocaine” and “Layla” and, since Brooker joined in, a good but rusty version of “A White Shade Of Pale” where the band forget how to end it.  The encore is a long, nine minute version of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie,” one of the seminal tunes for Clapton.  Rothmans was a minor label who produced several outstanding titles and this is among them.  The include a four page insert with photos from the gig and with the great sound quality is recommended. 

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