God Was Here (Further Along FAP-012/013)
Disc 1 (68:50) International Amphitheater, Chicago, IL – July 2nd, 1974: Smile, Let It Grow, Can’t Find My Way Home, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Tell The Truth, Willie And The Hand Jive / Get Ready, Let It Rain, Key To The Highway, Presence Of The Lord
Disc 2 (67:28) Congress Centrum, Hamburg, Germany – November 26th, 1974: I Shot the Sheriff, Little Rachael, Let it Grow, Get Ready, Badge, Layla. Coliseum, Knoxville, TN – June 19th, 1975: Eyesight to the Blind /Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?
God Was Here is a two disc compilation of fragments from Eric Clapton’s first couple of tours as a solo artist in the mid-seventies. The first disc is the soundboard from the first of two concerts at the International Amphitheater in Chicago.
It is a very good but flat soundboard recording. Further Along reduced the hiss, but also eliminated the higher frequencies resulting in it being very bass heavy. It runs too slow and isn’t as complete. A second silver pressing of this tape can be found on Three Smiles (E.C. Is Here DJ Copy 155/156/157) which is superior in every way.
There are some changes in sound quality during “Let It Grow” that sound less jarring on this release than God Was Here.
The set list for this tour is notable for beginning with several mellow acoustic numbers that gradually build in intensity to the electric jamming jamborees. “Smile” opened every show and was followed by either “Let It Grow”, “Easy Now” or “Can’t Find My Way Home” or any combination of the three. This show has all but “Easy Now” with Clapton introducing the band early including his “out of tune” guitar Blackie right before “Blues Power.”
George Terry plays a nice guitar solo in “Let It Grow.”
“Willie And The Hand Jive”, “Get Ready” and “Let It Rain” are all segued together. The tape ends with “Presence Of The Lord” with the encores, if any were played, missing.
The second disc has two audience recordings. The first six songs date from the European leg of the 461 Ocean Boulevard tour. Further Along is the only silver pressed title to have this fragment and they attribute it to the opening night in Hamburg on November 26th.
However, this tape is really the November 29th show at the Grugahalle in Essen. (The real Hamburg fragment is longer and had different songs, contributing “Mainline Florida” and “Let It Rain” to Clapton Is Mad Dog (Akashic AKA-17-1/2)). It is cut between the tracks, but the forty minutes is in very good sound quality.
The structure of the show remained the same from the American tour with several acoustic numbers before the electric, meaning the tape picks up at about the fourth song of the night with “I Shot The Sheriff.”
Clapton makes an interesting comment before “Little Rachael” telling the audience “this is an old Cream song that we used to do in Germany every time we played here. Never got it out on record unfortunately. But just for you …”
“Willie And The Hand Jive” is missing, but “Get Ready” is present. Clapton makes a quick reference to “Baby Don’t You Do It” in response to whistling in the audience. “Badge” has a strange moment of hesitation in the middle, almost as if they lost their place.
Like most of the songs the beginning of “Layla” is missing. The band move into “All I Have To Do Is Dream” as was common during this time. It’s a fantastic performance, but its current fragmented state is a shame.
The final track is the encore from the June 19th, 1975 Knoxville, Tennessee show. It is a very good audience tape and it seems this is all that exists from the show. Carlos Santana, who was touring with Clapton that summer, joins him onstage for a half hour long jam on “Eyesight To The Blind” and “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” Santana’s percussionists also get a long drum solo in the middle.
God Was Here is a good but not great release. Further Along’s intention of pressing several unrelated pieces into a short anthology is commendable. But the Chicago soundboard has been superseded on Three Smiles and the other fragments, while very interesting, are certainly not essential.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)