Eric Clapton – Norfolk Scope (Beano-038)

Norfolk Scope (Beano-038)

The Scope, Norfolk, VA – August 30th, 1975

Disc 1 (71:58):  Layla, Bell Bottom Blues, Key To The Highway, Mainline Florida, Can’t Find My Way Home, Further On Up The Road, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Blues Power (incl. drum solo)

Disc 2 (41:25):  Teach Me To Be Your Woman, Stormy Monday, Tell The Truth, Let It Rain (with Poco)

Eric Clapton’s long US tour for There’s One In Every Crowd ended on August 30th, 1975 at The Scope in Norfolk, Virgina.  A very good soundboard recording exists of most of the concert.  An early release can be found on The End of Summer Night(Dynamite Studio DS 92 43/44) released 1992 and was copied by Outrider OR-9810/11 in 1998.  It contains most of the show but also has “Badge,” “Carnival,” “Little Wing” and “Eyesight To The Blind” from the August 12th Denver show.

Scope ’75 (Masterport-100) is a more recent release with the same tape source but with “Badge” instead of “Tell The Truth.”  There isn’t a cut between “Stormy Monday” so Norfolk Scope seems to be correct and “Badge” wasn’t played in Norfolk.  Slight amounts of tape hiss are audible but not distracting. 

There are several other cuts, found in “Can’t Find My Way Home” at 5:55, “Teach Me To Be Your Woman” at 8:59, and in “Tell The Truth” in the middle of an intense solo, cutting off the end at 8:25.

Clapton spent almost two and half months on the road that summer, and afterwards he took a break of several months before returning to Japan.  Norfok has the looseness of a cast party, a post-production gathering of friends, musicians and employees.  At one point Yvonne Elliman makes a remark about all the people milling about onstage. 

“Layla” begins the show as it does for all of the shows that summer, somewhat of a surprise to the audience who are used to hearing it as a closing number.  It sets the tone for the rest of the show with a strange, drawn out solo in the middle where Clapton is experimenting with various melodies. 

“Bell Bottom Blues” follows, one of the more popular songs chosen for the setlists on this tour.

“Key To The Highway” is called “a Big Bill Broonzy song, or so they say” and provides the first of many strange solos and jamming.  George Terry sings his tune “Mainline Florida” while again providing a bizarre expressionistic solo in the middle.

“Blues Power” reaches close to twenty minutes and, in addition to Clapton and Terry, features a long drum solo.  It’s a true rarity in a Clapton concert and makes one wonder if it was brought about by equipment failure (or perhaps Clapton was in a generous mood and allowed Jamie Oldecker to have a space in the spotlight).  At the end Clapton introduced both Oldaker and percussionist Sergio Pastora.

The old Derek And The Dominoes number “Tell The Truth” closes the show.  It is a shame it is cut out after only eight and a half minutes.  The cut comes right when Clapton and Terry are really inspired and on fire, leaving the imagination to wonder how it plays out (and for how long).

Before the encore “Let It Rain” Clapton brings on members of the group Poco for, “what we call in England a little ‘sing-song.'”  In 1975 Poco were a four piece (Paul Cotton, Rusty Young, Timothy B. Schmit and George Grantham) touring for their latest LP Head Over Heels.  It’s not clear who exactly is onstage (not even sure if Clapton knew), but they do add a tremendous amount of trills, frills, and inspiration to the old Clapton song including an appealing violin sounding melody to the arrangement.  It is one of the best versions of the song.

Norfolk Scope is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with very dark and hard to read inserts.  It is, however, another excellent release by the Beano label and is worth having.     

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