Eric Clapton – Shinjuku Blow (Calm & Storm 006)

Shinjuku Blow (Calm & Storm 006)

Koseinenkin Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan – December 9th, 1981

Disc 1 (60:26):  Opening, Tulsa Time, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, I Shot The Sheriff, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Country Boy, Another Ticket, Blues Power, Blow Wind Blow

Disc 2 (48:13):  Motherless Children, Ramblin’ On My Mind / Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Cocaine, Layla, Member Introduction, Sad Sad Day, Further On Up The Road

Eric Clapton’s final show in Japan in 1981 used to be very hard to come by.  In the past couple of years two tapes have surfaced and both were pressed on Tricone, Final Show (Tricone 013/014) and Wonderful Farewell (Tricone 049/050). 

Recently a third unique tape has surfaced.  Shinjuku Blow on the new Calm & Storm label is the third tape to come to light.  It was recorded by a taper named “Miracle Man,” whose tape archive has been systematically pressed by this new label.  It is a slightly distant but clear stereo audience tape marred only by the label’s heavy handed mastering which  makes the audience applause sound rather unnatural.

It is, however, much more enjoyable than the other tapes and offers a very nice document of a dynamic performance. 

Clapton was in a strange way in 1981.  Fighting with his record company and struggling with his identity, Another Ticket was released to the public as a bitter compromise with surprising produced his biggest ever hit single with “I Can’t Stand It,” which reached number one in March. 

Away from the dictates of the record company, live performance was his true medium.  Eschewing his hit (he has, in fact, never played “I Can’t Stand It” live), he gave much time during the set to his backing band and even pulled out some oddball rarities and improvisations. 

Shinjuku is one of the special performances. 

The entire show in imbued with a sense of purpose, already apparent in the opening numbers “Tulsa Time” and “Long Tall Sally.”  But it truly takes off with a fast and aggressive “After Midnight.”  And after a slower, shuffling version of “I Shot The Sheriff” Clapton tells the audience that “I’m going to hand over the show now to Gary Brooker and the GREAT ALBERT LEE!!!!!!”

“A Whiter Shade Of Pale” is a nice contrast to everything else played in the set, a nice break from the blues.  The song is such a classic and it retains is primitive beauty even with only one  member of the original band playing.  Albert Lee follows with “Country Boy” which, taken at such a quick tempo, almost serves as comic relief.  

“Another Ticket” is the first song to be played from the new album, almost an hour into the show.  And after a great version of “Blues Power,” accentuated by the sharp gospel beat in the middle, they follow with the Muddy Waters cover “Blow Wind Blow,” also from Another Ticket

The  medley “Rambling On My Mind” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” serves as the long blues exploration in the set and is followed by a very slow tempo “Cocaine” and “Layla” to close the set.  The encores have the rare Muddy Waters cover “Sad, Sad Day” and “Further On Up The Road.”

Clapton’s 1981 tour of Japan has been extremely well documented over the past couple of years by several labels.  The final night stands out from the others for its enthusiasm and excellent performance.  Clapton’s live schedule would slow down the following year while he recorded his follow up to Another Ticket, and this concert is a fitting coda. 

Shinjuku Blow is packaged in a standard double slimline jewel case with nice graphic design on the front cover.  The red tint makes it resemble the previous release of this show on Tricone, but the sound quality is such an improvement that this is worth having.

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