Miss You (Beano-018)
Eric Clapton began a year of prolonged touring in 1987 in support of the recently released August LP after a year of sporadic festival, club and charity appearances. He began the year with eight dates in the UK including six consecutive concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in Londonbefore playing some shows on the continent. He played ten shows in Europe over two weeks and was joined by Mark Knopfler for the dates in Brussels and Paris.
Miss You, the latest release on the Clapton label Beano, collects and releases for the first time on a commercial boot three of the four shows performed in Germany with new tape sources from Dortumund, Hamburg and Frankfurt. The final German date on January 23rd in Munich does exist but the label chose to keep this a six-disc set instead of expanding it to eight and keeping with these brand new tape sources. All three are uniformly very good to excellent quality and clear from very close to the stage. There is some audience noise between tracks, chatting (echt Deutsch) and some singing along but nothing too distracting.
It actually makes listening to these concerts a lot of fun. Clapton’s touring band at this time consisted of Nathan East on bass, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards and Steve Ferrone replacing Phil Collins on drums, who played with Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall shows and on the US tour.
The keyboards play a much more important role in the arrangements than in the past which still bothers many Clapton purists. Not only do the keyboards accompany the music but even (**gasp**) replace some of Clapton’s guitar solos like in “Cocaine” and “Badge”.
Furthermore Phillinganes chooses synthesizer sounds that are very tinny and were hip in the eighties but sounds annoying today and fall short of the majestic tones a Hammond would have lent. All three shows have identical set lists with no variation making Miss You a bit repetitive. Clapton opens and closes the show with a string of older classics with the newer material sandwiched in the middle.
Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany – January 20th, 1987
Disc 1: Opening S.E., Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Hung Up On Your Love, Wonderful Tonight, Miss You, Same Old Blues, Tearing Us Apart
Disc 2: Holy Mother, Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, Layla, Sunshine Of Your Love
The Dortmund tape on the first two discs is perhaps the best sounding of the three with the equipment being very close to the stage. An older source also exists and has circulated which sounds significantly worse than this, has a big cut in “Same Old Blues”, and is missing the encore “Sunshine Of Your Love”.
It also lists “Wanna Make Love To You” between “Same Old Blues” and “Tearing Us Apart” which isn’t correct. This recording has a tape flip after “Miss You” which the other two also have, and a cut at the beginning of “Holy Mother” omits the first forty seconds of the track. Otherwise this is musically complete. One can hear the audience clapping along to the music and singing along with “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Wonderful Tonight” (Dortmund favorites it seems).
“Same Old Blues” from Behind The Sun is the instrumental centerpiece for this and all the shows on this tour. It is expanded to eighteen minutes with Clapton taking several guitar solos between a Nathan East bass solo, a Greg Phillinganes keyboard solo, and Steve Perrone drum solo. “Badge” sounds strange with the happy eighties keyboard playing under the guitar and it segues directly into “Let It Rain” in a happy mood to match.
Sporthalle, Hamburg, Germany – January 21st, 1987
Disc 3: Opening S.E., Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Hung Up On Your Love, Wonderful Tonight, Miss You, Same Old Blues, Tearing Us Apart
Disc 4: Holy Mother, Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, Layla, Sunshine Of Your Love
The complete Hamburg performance is covered on discs three and four. It is more complete than the Dortmund tape (no cut in “Holy Mother”). It is a very good stereo audience recording that is somewhat thinner than the Dortmund tape and with more echo present and the Hamburg audience is much quieter than the previous evening.
“How are you doing?” Clapton asks after “White Room” to almost silence and “I Shot The Sheriff” is the first song in this show that really wakes the audience. This does lend to the clarity of the music however, and this is another terrific concert with the newer material really shining.
Festhalle, Frankfurt am Main, Germany – January 22nd, 1987
Disc 5: Opening S.E., Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Hung Up On Your Love, Wonderful Tonight, Miss You, Same Old Blues, Tearing Us Apart
Disc 6: Holy Mother, Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, Layla, Sunshine Of Your Love
The Frankfurt tape on the final two discs is arguably the best sounding and best played concert of the three. The sound quality is loud and clear and lacks the audience comments and singing that the other two have and has a beautiful overall live sound. Somewhere between Hamburg and Frankfurt they switched their mixer since the keyboards are lower in the music and Clapton’s guitar is higher. Less keyboards and more guitar recalls the days when Clapton’s virtuosity is the centerpiece of the performance.
This mix is first noticeable on “White Room” which sounds much closer to Cream than to Phil Collins. “Hung Up On Your Love” sounds less like a beer commercial and more of a funky groove. “Miss You”, another new song, contains two absolutely blistering guitar solos and is the very best version of this song in this six disc set followed by one of the best jams on “Same Old Blues”.
Clapton is loose enough to play a duet with Phillinganes which is great fun. The keyboardist favors a Hammond-like sound for “Badge” giving the track some of its ancient bite.
Miss You is packaged like the other six disc sets on Beano in a six way fatboy jewel case. The cover photo is of Clapton taken from his right side playing the guitar which is a similar pose the label has been using for their releases of late (compare this with Peaches And Diesel, Blue Sky, and Speeding Down The Highway). Many dismiss his late eighties output (and on some level so does he), but August did reach number three in the British music charts and did produce some interesting music. This is limited to three hundred copies and will ultimately, given the cost, appeal to the Clapton completist.