Crystal Palace Bowl, London, UK – July 31, 1976
Introduction – Hello Old Friend – All Our Pastimes – Tell The Truth – I Shot The Sheriff – Double Trouble – Blues Power – Going Down Slow – Stormy Monday – Layla – Further On Up The Road.
After EC’s warm up show in Hemel Hempstead two days earlier, this is EC’s first show from his 1976 UK Tour – his first full UK Tour since the Derek & The Dominos days.
The good news is Mid Valley treat us to the full show. The bad news is that the show is quite short at 10 songs and 79 minutes, hence the one and only disc. The good news is that the source tape used by Mid Valley is of a more than decent audience quality for the era. The bad news is that even promoting his “No Reason To Cry” album EC won’t play “Black Summer Rain”. The good news is that this release comes with amazing goodies in its limited edition of 200: a “I’m With Stupid” T-Shirt and several “I’m With Stupid” cards with pictures from the show on the back. The bad news is that Mid Valley charges one hell of a price for this set.
As for the music itself is concerned the show starts with two numbers that see EC on acoustic guitar leaving all electric duties to George Terry. Listening to “Hello Old Friend” it seems the band is far from being tight and still has a long way to go: EC starts singing the first verse untimely forcing George Terry change his lead guitar on the fly. “All Our Pastimes” is the second acoustic song before the band progresses to the electric set which begins with a 10 minute “Tell The Truth” jam. Right after it an announcement is made advicing people that had jumped into the lake at the foot of the stage to stay away from the wiring required for the sound equipment. The risk of electrocution seems to be the only reason for such a short set. “Sheriff” features another nice long jam at the end and gives way to a great rendition of “Double Trouble”, the first blues song of the set. Levels will fluctuate here and there from now onwards on the tape but it will be nothing you can’t live with. “Blues Power” features some guitar solos that are indeed running on a lot of blues power. Some hiss is noticeable during the quieter passages of what has got to be the highlight of the show for me: the rendition of “Going Down Slow / Stormy Monday”. EC & Larry Coryell, who has joined the band by now, will make you forget about that hiss thing with some outstanding guitar work. A rushing “Layla” is the final song of the show again featuring Larry Coryell. For the encore EC also brings on stage Texas blues giant Freddie King and Ronnie Wood – which makes a total of 5 guitar players on stage! – for a stunning version of “Further On Up The Road”. EC says “Thank you my loves and goodnight!” to say farewell to the crowd and the show is gone. Unfortunately.
I can’t do anything but recommend this release. It is true that “I’m With Stupid” is pricey in its limited edition and the sound quality is not one of the best, but this is an historic gig and is a must have for any serious EC collector. If you are not interested in the T-shirt, you should still opt for the non-limited edition of this release.