Laid Back In Down Under (Paddington PADD 040/041/042/043)
Disc 1: Festival Hall, Brisbane – April 14th, 1975: Introduction, Badge, Milk Cow Blues/ Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Steady Rollin’ Man, Can’t Find My Way Home, Teach Me To Be Your Woman, Let It Rain
Disc 2: Festival Hall, Brisbane – April 14th, 1975: Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, I Shot The Sheriff, Layla/ All I Have To Do Is Dream, Little Wing, Little Queenie
Disc 3: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney – April 20th, 1975: Let It Grow, Tell The Truth, Better Make It Through Today, Badge, I Shot The Sheriff, Teach Me To Be Your Woman, Steady Rollin’ Man, Key To The Highway
Disc 4: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney – April 20th, 1975: Can’t Find My Way Home, Blues Power, Driftin’/Crossroads/Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Layla/Opposites, Let It Rain, Little Wing
Laid Back In Down Under presents the two existing documents taken from Clapton’s first visit to Australia. These are among the first shows from 1975 following two shows in Honolulu and one show in Auckland. The song selection during this tour reflected most of what was played during 1974 and it wouldn’t be until the rehearsals in June before a significant amount of different material would be brought in.
The Brisbane show is a very good sounding board tape that at times emphasizes a lot of delay on the guitars. They open with “Badge” before launching into tonight’s lengthy blues jam. Eric references a verse from Robert Johnson’s “When You Got A Good Friend” in “Milk Cow Blues” before segueing into “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. An almost 14 minute “Steady Rollin’ Man” has a noteworthy George Terry guitar solo and a section where he and Clapton are really feeding off each other. “Let It Rain” has some interesting chord variations at the beginning also found in the Sydney show but tonight’s version seems to lack some of the dynamics it needs. “I Shot The Sheriff” picks things up again with a nice long jam at the end and “Layla” has both magical moments as well as some very out of key guitars. Their slow version of “Little Wing” from these shows definitely fits the laid back mood of the tour. EC finishes the Brisbane show on a high note with “Little Queenie” that unfortunately fades at the end.
Bell Bottom released this show as Brisbane Blues in 1998 but was missing the last three tracks. Paddington sounds a little louder and a bit wider and livelier but is really only a small upgrade in sound quality. They probably just did a better job with the mastering. The show was also released as Milk Cow Blues on Unbelievable Music but is missing “Little Queenie”.
The Sydney show is also a good soundboard, although inferior to the Brisbane tape, and runs about 2% fast with some speed issues giving it a slight wobble to the sound. It is probably suffering from age and maybe improper storage but clears up mostly in the middle of the recording. This show was also previously released by the Bell Bottom label under the title, Sydney Boogie, incorrectly listed as the Sydney Opera House, and is missing the last two tracks. Parts of this show were included on Unsteady Rollin’ Man from Vintage Rare Masters, along with six tracks from Brisbane, and can be found complete on the no label CDR title Sydney Complete.
Overall, Sydney is more of an average performance, not bad, but not outstanding, as were many other performances from this era. Clapton sounds a little tired or drunk in his speech. He introduces the band by first name only tonight and himself as “Steady Eric”. The liner notes report that Eric became ill from food poisoning and had to stop the show after just 75 minutes and a free makeup concert was held two days later. The disc times seem to contradict this with 115 plus minutes from the event. The second half of tonight’s show is excellent picking up around “Blues Power”. Tonight’s blues segment features “Drifting” with some lyrics from “Crossroads” before going into “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and captures a good vibe. A strong version of “Layla” uses the rarely played “Opposites” as the coda which has the vocals somewhat muffled but is musically excellent. The tape speed issues return at the end of “Let It Rain” and throughout “Little Wing” and just when the show starts to gain momentum the track fades.
The fun part about collecting Clapton from this period comes from his ability to constantly mix things up in the set and the mood and vibe were sometimes dramatically different from night to night. These shows have a relaxed feel to them and sound truly laid back, sometimes a little too laid back.
Paddington offers excellent packaging and seem to lean toward very well thought out larger sets. This set comes with a nice insert printed on thick glossy paper and a drink coaster with the disc title and an image of Australia printed on it. Another great comprehensive Paddington release easily recommended where it presents both soundboard recordings on silver disc in their most complete form. Hats off to Paddington for giving us premium product without the premium pricing.