Eric Clapton – Pale Flame (Tricone 063/064)

Pale Flame (Tricone 063/064)

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 7th, 1981

Disc1 (45:32):  Tulsa Time – Lay Down Sally – Wonderful Tonight – After Midnight – I Shot The Sheriff – A Whiter Shade Of Pale – Country Boy – Double Trouble.Disc2 (37:02):  Blues Power – Blow Wind Blow – Motherless Children – Rambling On My Mind/Have You Ever Loved A Woman – Cocaine – Further On Up The Road.

“Pale Flame” is the third silver release of this show after “Japan Tour’81” on the EC Rarities label and Tarantura’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. Anticipated as an amazing new tape I was eager to listen to this release and compare it to the two other titles in existence. After doing so I would say Tarantura still play in a different League.  In my opinion their tape keeps being the best one but that does not mean ARMS and Tricone’s are to be overlooked.

Both “Japan Tour’81” and “Pale Flame” are very good audience recordings for the era (I just would not dare to say which tape comes second to Tarantura) but given the fact that the former was released in the mid-90s (and Tarantura’s is as very limited as usual) Pale Flame may be a good addition to your collection if you’re missing this performance in silver format. 

The first highlight has got to be Wonderful Tonight which sounds close to the studio version. Eric’s singing and playing are so gentle and Gary Brooker’s work on the synthetizers really adds to the atmosphere. After Midnight is a joy to listen to in a double time pace – Chris Stainton must have been dead beat by the time the song came to its end!!

Sheriff is my favourite song tonight with a terrific two-minute classic Clapton solo on wah-wah. Synthetizers reign on A Whiter Shade Of Pale until Eric shows up halfway through the song to show some of his melodic palette on guitar. Country Boy seems to be a crowd pleaser but it is my least favourite Albert Lee song and with Eric being “on vacation” on this one it’s no surprise I want to skip it. Eric does sound as in pain in the excellent rendition of Otis Rush’s Double Trouble that closes the first disc. 

With some clapping from the crowd Disc2 resumes the recording where Disc1 left off. Blues Power brings Clapton’s guitar to the forefront for a great three-minute outro. Blow Wind Blow is the only song from the “Another Ticket” album to be performed tonight. (Either Clapton tought it was too late to promote the album – originally released ten months earlier – or the album sold so well in Japan that he didn’t need to play more stuff from it? Either way that’s what I call a strange way to promote an album!)

Motherless Children preceeds the Ramblin’ On My Mind / Have You Ever Loved A Woman medley – a true masterpiece of blues guitar perfection! If it’s strange to play just one song from your latest album, it’s even stranger not to perform Layla! as this is the case. Tonight it is Cocaine the number that closes the show with the two usual solos from Eric first and then Albert Lee. The hand clapping from the crowd asking for the encore has been omitted and Further On Up The Road begins soon. All band members take their turns and Gary Brooker even sings a verse.

Vocals are distant like they are on “Japan Tour’81” but the guitar comes through quite clearly and with little crowd interference “Pale Flame” is a very enjoyable recording and a great addition to your collection particularly if you don’t have any of the two prior releases. I am now waiting for the day the Fukuoka and Kyoto nights from Dec 3rd & 4th are finally released so that we can close the circle of the Japan Tour of 1981!

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