Stardust (Mid Valley 414/415)
Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, Japan – November 26, 2006
Disc1. Tell The Truth – Got To Get Better In A Little While – Old Love – Motherless Children – When You Got A Good Friend – Key To The Highway – Outside Woman Blues – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out – Running On Faith
Disc 2. After Midnight – Little Queen Of Spades – Anyday – Wonderful Tonight – Layla – Cocaine – Crossroads
If I were allowed to acquire just one release on the Mid Valley label a year, Stardust would be without doubt my choice for 2007. You might think Mid Valley is Santa Claus as Stardust was released just before Christmas. Well, I have to say Santa Claus won’t charge you a cent for your presents, while Mid Valley charged a hell of a price for this set, probably trying to benefit from the Christmas period as this set was easy for us collectors to see as the perfect Christmas gift for ourselves.
Stardust is a 2CD set featuring a previously unreleased source in a beyond perfect stereo soundboard quality. Not only the sound quality is awesome but also on the packaging Mid Valley did a good job. The jewel case is housed in a cardboard jacket that is designed as a Fender Twin Amp identical to the slipcase of the signed & limited edition of EC’s Autobiography book. Stardust is therefore a pleasure to listen to and also to look at.
“Tell The Truth” opens the show sounding closer to the original than any other live versions I have listened to from the seventies. Derek Trucks may be the responsible for that as he provides some slide guitar work in a tone that is very similar to Duane’s. “Five Long Years” had been played the show before but for some reason is dropped from tonight’s setlist. “Got To Get Better” sees EC deliver a solid first solo but I still miss another one from him after Doyle’s and Derek’s turns. “Old Love” features a great solo from EC and even Tim Carmon’s work on the keyboards sounds good to me tonight, but I still prefer 1996’s arrangement of this song. “Motherless Children” has a galloping beat and shows all three guitar players’ expertise on the slide guitar.
The sit down set begins with EC solo on acoustic guitar for a beautiful, personal & intimate rendition of “When You Got A Good Friend”. Just at the end of this song I hear what I believe are a couple of digital clicks – the only downside of this release – that do no affect the music at all. They just can be heard before the band joins EC for stunning renditions of “Key To The Highway”, “Outside Woman Blues” and “Nobody Knows You”. What EC can do with an acoustic guitar other people can’t do with an orchestra. A lovely “Running On Faith” closes disc1 with EC singing it beautifully but it is Doyle who steals the song by playing an outstanding solo.
On “After Midnight” EC plays the first solo again and after Doyle’s and Derek’s he plays the final outro I had missed on “Got To Get Better”. “Liitle Queen Of Spades” is a real highlight. Featuring extended solos by everybody, this is 18+ minutes long with EC spotlighting his fellow band members. “Anyday” is a joy to listen to. Not only Derek Trucks do an outstanding work on slide guitar, but also EC and Doyle are great on vocals. I have always thought EC should give “Wonderful Tonight” a break and play some other romantic songs from his extensive catalogue instead – “Tell Me That You Love Me”, “Pretty Girl” or “Black Summer Rain” just to name a few. All in all, tonight’s rendition is of the highest quality, and EC’s vocals and guitar playing moved me like I think I had never been before. EC’s solo on “Layla” is concise at 45 seconds and brilliant too while the coda benefited from having Derek on slide guitar. “Cocaine” is long at 12+ minutes. The first part sees three different solos by EC, Doyle and Tim Carmon and Derek and Chris Stainton are featured on the second part of the song. “Crossroads” is left for the encore, and again features guitar solos from all thre guitarists: EC, Doyle, Derek and EC again. It is indeed a great ending to the show.
Whether Stardust is limited or not, I don’t know but even as pricey as it is, Stardust was worth every cent I paid for it and needless to say is an essential release to own.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)