Eric Clapton – Groaning The Blues: Japan Tour 1993 (Tricone 073/074)

Groaning The Blues:  Japan Tour 1993
(Tricone 073/074)

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – October 13th, 1993

Disc 1 (55:10): Opening, Malted Milk, Terraplane Blues, How Long Blues, 32-20, Kidman Blues, County Jail Blues, Forty-Four, Blues Leave Me Alone, Tell Me Mama, White Room, Badge, Wonderful Tonight

Disc 2 (57:09): Stone Free, Circus Left Town, Tears In Heaven, Crossroads, Tearing Us Apart, Groaning The Blues, Cocaine, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Layla

Of the fourteen shows Eric Clapton performed in Japan in 1993, the second date on October 13th in the Budokan in Tokyo is perhaps the most obscure   There has never been a silver pressed edition available and it scarcely circulates among collectors on a mediocre audience recording.  Groaning The Blues on Tricone debuts a never before circulated DAT stereo audience tape of the entire performance.

Clapton never departed from the set list during this time.  The first third of the show is occupied by his fascination with his roots.  For forty minutes  he gives very faithful and energetic interpretations of obscure blues numbers starting with chilling renditions of “Malted Milk” and “Terraplane Blues,” both by Robert Johnson.    

The Cream oldies “White Room” and “Badge” are played in the  middle of the set as if they formed the transition into the Hendrix cover “Stone Free” and the short “Unplugged” set with “Circus Left Town” and “Tears In Heaven.”  The latter features a mournful harmonica weaving around the guitar melody expressing such melancholy.  

Other numbers in the set are given “bluesier” arrangements including “Crossroads” and “Cocaine.”  The eighties staple “Tearing Us Apart” features loud and exciting trumpets in the arrangement.   

“Groanin’ The Blues” quite rightly gives the title to this show.  Clapton and the band play the Willie Dixon cover with incredible intensity, enough to seemingly rattle the foundation of the Budokan.  “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” the old blues standard which Clapton references Bessie Smith, and a faithful Derek And The Dominoes arrangement of “Layla” close the long night.

While the second show in Japan in 1993 doesn’t substantially differ from the others in terms of set list, performance and atmosphere, it is good to finally have a great recording of what has been a missing piece from this era.   

Several sources such as the Eric Clapton Tourography and Where’s Eric?, the Eric Clapton Fan Club website, say the first two Japan shows were in the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama (about an hour south of Tokyo).  But advertisements of the tour state definitively these were in Tokyo.   

Groaning The Blues is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with similar obscure graphics as the other two Japan Tour 1993 titles Tricone released at the same time.  This was recorded by the same taper who also recorded British Pride (Tricone 015/016) and Perpetual Black (Tricone 017/018) among others on the label.  The sound quality and rarity of this particular show makes it worth having.  

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