Ludwigshafen 1974 (Beano-070)
Friedrich Ebert Halle, Ludwigshafen, Germany – November 28, 1974
Disc 1: (56:18) Opening, Let It Grow, Can’t Find My Way Home, Tell The Truth, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Blues Medley incl. It Hurts Me Too/Rambling On My Mind/Have You Ever Loved A Woman
Disc 2: (70:21) Badge, Blues Power, Little Wing, Singing The Blues, Layla, All I Have To Do Is Dream, I Shot The Sheriff, Little Queenie
Eric Clapton’s return to the stage during 1974 was very interesting to say the least. He released 461 Ocean Boulevard in July and toured the US (two legs), Japan, and Europe. There were definitely some issues with alcohol, especially during the two US legs, leading to some real uneven performances, however, the shows from the latter part of the year seemed to be improving and getting more consistent. Ludwigshafen comes three dates into the European tour and Eric sounds mostly sober and tonight’s performance is solid. This is the first silver pressing of the complete show. Previous releases were missing “Let It Grow”, the ending of “Layla” and the encores.
Ludwigshafen 1974 features a fairly distant recording that is surprisingly clear and enjoyable. There is some upper end distortion but it fortunately doesn’t ruin the recording and the balance between the instruments is pretty even. The audience is non-intrusive for the most part and there are no musical cuts during any of the tracks.
Like most shows up to this point, Clapton starts on acoustic guitar leaving George Terry to the electric parts. “Let It Grow” opens the show on the lighter side but as usual the track finishes with a very emotional ending, definitely one of Eric’s best early compositions. They follow with Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”. Yvonne Elliman handles the lead vocal with Eric chiming in during the choruses and Marcy Levy adding harmonica fills.
Clapton switches over to electric for a reading of the Dominos’ “Tell The Truth”. George Terry’s slide guitar and Dick Sims’ organ add a nice presence to the song. Both Yvonne and Marcy get vocal spots before it gives way to a full five minutes of jamming featuring solos from Terry and Clapton. “Willie And The Hand Jive” is linked with “Get Ready”, something that works very well and have been doing since the first live versions going back to June.
The “Blues Medley” reaches almost 13 minutes and features some of Clapton’s common “go to” blues numbers. This would sometimes change from night to night and tonight’s version consists of “It Hurts Me Too”, a blues standard that goes back to the Dominos’ days and made famous by Elmore James among others, “Ramblin’ On My Mind”, and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. Eric can be heard calling out key changes to the band as he stretches out soloing over them all.
Things start to pick up at the start of disc two with “Badge”. This is the fastest song so far tonight and the band starts to really peak and just in time for “Blues Power”. The band nails the groove and gets really funky in the extended jam at the end, simple but very effective. The crowd calls out for “Layla” but will have to wait. “Little Wing” on the other hand slows things way down. Some nights it seemed the song got so slow it nearly fell apart but this is a fine version with nice harmony vocals coming from Eric and Yvonne and a really nice solo section. “Singing The Blues” has the best groove of the night. The track just plain rips and Marcy is cutting loose all over the vocal and must be the highlight of the set for her and the band. This wouldn’t get released until There’s One In Every Crowd in March 1975. The start of “Layla” has some tuning issues that get quickly resolved and a small dip in tape speed for a second. The song finishes very strong and has some very heavy handed delay on the lead guitar from the sound engineer. They use an interesting snippet of the Everly Brothers “All I Have To Do Is Dream” as the coda with Marcy on vocal before exiting the stage.
“I Shot The Sheriff” is the first of two encores and gets a very welcomed cheer. This is played at a really fast tempo, so much so that Clapton seems to be having some trouble fitting in all the lyrics in time during the verses. Eric starts to get silly and asks everyone to take their cloths off before Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie”. There is a small amount of tape flutter during the track but isn’t too disturbing. They break it down for the band introductions and Eric jokes around saying things like “George Elliman lead guitar” and “a pair of filthy underwear on organ”. Marcy introduces Eric as “Elvis Presley” before they take the song out.
Ludwigshafen’s performance improves dramatically as the night progresses and is a great show for the Clapton collector. It may not be the best sounding tape but is a rewarding listen and a worthwhile release from Beano. This comes packaged in a slimline jewel case and is a nice looking production despite using common photos.