Hello Old Friend ’77 (E.C. Is Here DJ Copy 153/154)
Forest National, Brussels, Belgium – June 13th, 1977
Disc 1: Hello Old Friend, Sign Language, Alberta, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Tell The Truth, Can’t Find My Way Home, Key To The Highway
Disc 2: Stormy Monday, I Shot The Sheriff, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, Layla / All I Have To Do Is Dream, Further On Up The Road
Hello Old Friend ’77 is the second recent title covering Clapton’s summer tour of Europe in 1977. Two tapes exist for this show. The first is complete but poor and has circulated on cdr as Brussels 1977 (EC Compilations). The second tape source is much better sounding and complete save for a cut about seven and a half minutes into “Key To The Highway”. The taper in the Forest National is a distance from the stage and picks up significant levels of echo. It does have a nice live sound though. Hottest Night In Brussels Town (MV-139/140) on Mid Valley is the first commercial release of this tape, a lavish affair that comes with a T-shirt and deluxe box. The sound quality of the EC Is Here is comparable to the Mid Valley release.
This show occurs four days before the Eppelheim show and contains a similar set list. Also working in favor is the catatonic audience. I don’t know if the show wasn’t a sell out or if most of the audience were on Quaaludes but it almost sounds like this is a sound check instead of a concert in front of a paying audience. Many people close to the taper shout out their requests ALL night between every song. The most annoying is the one who keeps begging for “I Shot The Sheriff”. We have to wait to end of the show before he shuts his big mouth. “Tell The Truth” is very long and Clapton gets a bit lost in the solo. Compared to Eppelhiem, “Badge” is dropped from the set list. Clapton announces “Bell Bottom Blues” only to change his mind and play “Stormy Monday” by audience request. “Layla” contains an impromptu performance of the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream” sung by Marcy Levy.
I don’t think this label has circulated much outside of the Far East. They have an impressive catalogue of Clapton titles including some massive box sets from recent tours (36 discs covering the 2003 tour) that appeal to only the most insane Eric Clapton collectors who dwell among us. Hello Old Friend ’77 comes packaged in the standard double slimline jewel case with several candid photos on the inserts. This release might have been improved if they edited the rest of “Key To The Highway” from the first tape source. This is a good release for those who couldn’t snag a copy of the Mid Valley release. It sounds slightly fatter and a bit more dynamic but can’t be considered to be a major upgrade.