Eric Clapton – Seattle 1981

Seattle 1981

Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA – March 7th, 1981

Disc 1 (44:55):  Opening, Country Boy, A Salty Dog, Tulsa Time, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, Worried Life Blues, Stay Away From Me, Double Trouble

Disc 2 (59:21):  Rita Mae, Blow Wind Blow, Ramblin’ On My Mind / Mean Old World / Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Blues Power, Cocaine, Layla, Member Introduction, Further On Up The Road

Seattle 1981 is the second release in a year of the March 7th, 1981 Seattle show on Eric Clapton’s abbreviated Another Ticket US tour.  Last year it made its silver pressed debut on The New National Pastime (Godfather Records GR373/374).  The new no label release utilizes the same audience recording but has been remastered to minimize the bass and to sound much lighter and brighter than the Godfather.

The slight speed issue in “Layla” mentioned by slowhander in his review absent from the no label.  There are cuts after “Stay Away From My Baby,” one before “Blues Power” cutting out the first couple of notes, and one forty-one seconds into “Cocaine” eliminating the first verse.  Godfather used an older source for the cuts to make theirs more complete, but no label didn’t.  The cut in “Cocaine” is most noticeable since such a large section is missing from the tape.

In the early eighties Clapton seemed to really want to play in a band instead of being a solo artist.  Turn Up Down was rejected because it wasn’t Clapton enough and Another Ticket was released as a compromise.  The shows in early 1981 in Ireland and at the Rainbow Theater in London the week before Seattle were standard enough, beginning with “Tulsa Time” and featuring the solo numbers in the middle of the show.  

But Seattle (and Madison, WI, the other tape from the US tour) reveal that the solo numbers were moved from the middle to the start of the show.  So instead of “Tulsa Time” the concert begins with Albert Lee singing “Country Boy.”  Gary Brooker follows, not with the expected “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” but the more obscure Procol Harum tune “A Salty Dog” (the more famous Procol Harum song would return after this show).

The Clapton portion of the show is very laid back with the band having fun on stage.  There is a slight delay after “Tulsa Time” as Clapton explains:  “we’ll have a slight pause here as Mr. Hornby readjusts his costume  Anyway good evening to all of you.  I hope you enjoy the show.”  During “Lay Down Sally” Lee sings harmony in the upper register and it sounds very appealing.

Before “Worried Life Blues” Clapton jokes, “by the looks of this list it looks like we’re gonna get into some blues now.”  This is followed by a rare performance of the unreleased “Stay Away From My Baby.”  Only “Rita Mae” and the Muddy Waters cover “Blow Wind Blow” from the new album Another Ticket made it into the setlist.  

But the band really loosen up with “Blues Power.”  Lee doodles in the opening and they get into a short country shuffle before the opening verse and the improvisation in the middle is so intense that afterwards Clapton jokes “I think we should all lie down after that.”  Clapton also gives an extended solo in the introduction of “Cocaine.”  The show ends with “Layla” and the only encore “Further On Up The Road.” 

The packaging is a standard double slimline jewel case and an Another Ticket inspired front cover.  The first fifty copies comes with a little sticker for the front cover.  Overall Seattle 1981 on no label is a mixed bag compared to Godfather.  While it does sound brighter and there is less distortion in the lower frequencies, it doesn’t have the weightiness nor is it as complete as New National Pastime.  It is a good title to have. 

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