Memphis 1974 (Beano-063)
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN – July 28th, 1974
Disc 1 (62:54), audience recording: Introduction, Smile, Easy Now, Let It Rain, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Tell The Truth, I Can’t Hold Out, Badge
Disc 2 (44:34): I Shot The Sheriff, Layla, Crossroads, Blues Power, Little Queenie
Disc 3 (72:49), soundboard recording: Introduction, Smile, Easy Now, Let It Rain, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Tell The Truth, I Can’t Hold Out, Badge, I Shot The Sheriff, Layla, Crossroads
After the disastrous shows in early July and the tension surrounding the recording of the Long Beach shows for the live album EC Is Here, Eric Clapton reached a point of relative easy and joy in live performance in late July. On July 28th he played his first show in Memphis as a solo artists at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on a bill that included local band Ross, Foghat and Lynyrd Skynyrd (touring to support their second album Second Helping and their latest single hit “Sweet Home Alabama”).
Memphis 1974 on Beano features two unique tapes of the event. The first two discs contain a previously uncirculated audience recording, and the third disc has the old soundboard source.
This soundboard tape was released previously on Fire Power as I Can’t Hold Out (FP-08) and on Three Smiles (E.C. Is Here DJ Copy 155/156/157), along with soundboards tapes from Chicago and Birmingham, Alabama. There are two massive cuts on the tape where “I Shot The Sheriff” cuts out after five minutes and most of “Layla” is cut, fading in for the final two minutes of the song.
Beano is a full five minutes shorter than the copy used for Three Smiles. The difference in length is due only to the adjustment in pitch. Three Smiles runs very slow, but Beano runs at the correct speed. It also sounds noticeably brighter.
The audience tape is a bit distorted but clear and very top heavy. The end of “Badge” is missing, filled by the soundboard recording. There are also decreases in sound quality in the opening of “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Blues Power” from :04 until 5:43 due to deterioration of the master tape. But it is a very enjoyable recording of a surprisingly effective performance.
It starts off with the mc introducing “Legs” Larry Smith, who comes out to warm up the audience a bit. He introduces a special guest in the audience, “Richard Nixon” to a chorus of boos, says it’s a pleasure to be back “in Milwaukee” and plays a song he just wrote last week, strumming the opening of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.” It stops right where the lyrics begin, and then Smith introduces Clapton.
The two beginning acoustic songs, “Smile” and “Easy Now,” are tremendous in this performance. It is especially true with the latter where the singing of Yvonne Elliman brings out a catchy nuance in the melody not always obvious in other performances.
“Let It Rain” is very fiery and aggressive, as are the Johnny Otis cover “Willie And The Hand Jive.” Both Clapton and Elliman have a lot of fun in the long jam in “Get Ready,” scatting the words as if they were beat poets at an open mic poetry reading while stoked out on espressi (or something like that).
After a lengthy version of “Tell The Truth” Clapton plays “I Can’t Hold Out” from 461 Ocean Boulevard. A true rarity, the only other known performances on this tour are July 10th in Providence and on August 2nd in Greenboro.
“Layla” contains more intense guitar duetting between Clapton and George Terry. The set ends with an unique arrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads.” To commemorate their proximity to the real crossroads (Memphis is two hours north of Rosedale, Mississippi, the location of the junction of US 61 and US 49), they drop the well-known Cream arrangement and play it in a stricter blues melody with a two-step shuffle beat, much like how Bob Dylan might tackle the song.
The first encore is “Blues Power” with a nod to Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step” in the song’s introduction, and the Chuck Berry cover “Little Queenie” as the final song of the night.
Memphis 1974 is a nice, comprehensive Clapton set. He gives one of the better performances from the summer 1974 tour and the audience is very warm and appreciative (several times people shouting “welcome back!” can be heard). Beano utilize a basic three-disc quad jewel case with photographs from the tour on the liner notes.