Talkin Bout New Orleans & St. Louis (Mid Valley 292/293/294/295)
City Park Stadium, New Orleans, LA – July 31st, 1974
Disc 1: Introduction, Smile, Easy Now, Tell The Truth, Badge, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready
Disc 2: Fucked If I Know, Layla, Little Wing, I Shot The Sheriff, Blues Power, Let It Rain, Little Queenie
Discs one and two contain the New Orleans show from July 31, 1974 from a mixture of two audience recordings from the same taper. The sound is very clear and was probably taped very close to the front and some faint conversation can be heard around the recorder from time to time. There is also some level and balance problems scattered throughout like the tape deck may have had a bad input jack.
Regardless, this is one of the best sounding audience recordings I’ve heard from Clapton’s 74 tour and the sections of tape that are free of problems really do sound excellent. Tarantura recently released a slightly different mix of these two sources on A Legend In His Own Time. Mid Valley is also missing the “Legs” Larry intro and following comments documented in the review of Tarantura’s title.
Most shows from this tour started with Clapton on acoustic guitar and tonight’s set includes “Easy Now”, a great song from Clapton’s first solo album that unfortunately only got played sporadically during the 74 tour and showcases the great vocal blend Eric, George Terry, and Yvonne Elliman had. Eric switches to electric for “Tell The Truth” where things start to pick up.
The last 45 seconds of “Badge” switches to the secondary source which still sounds good but is sonically flatter. This alternate source returns for about a minute after “Get Ready” which has Clapton answering a call with “who shot, who shot the sheriff?” These two sections of tape along with another minute of tape spliced in at the end of “Fucked If I Know” are missing from Tarantura’s version.
“Little Wing” seems to drag down the mood of an otherwise inspired show and has many tape problems throughout. Tarantura chose to switch to the alternate source for this track where Mid Valley keeps the original source intact. The last few seconds of “I Shot The Sheriff” through the remainder of the show are from the alternate source on both labels but Tarantura sounds dull when compared with Mid Valley.
The main tape source has its share of problems but these issues are outweighed by the great sound. Mid Valley have boosted the level and eq (a common practice from this family of labels) over Tarantura and though it’s not a major upgrade, they did achieve a bigger, slightly clearer sound. Tarantura’s title also runs a bit faster than Mid Valley but both are very close to the proper running speed.
Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO – July 25th, 1974
Disc 3: Introduction, Smile, Can’t Find My Way Home, I Shot The Sheriff, You Don’t Love Me, Badge, Tell The Truth
Disc 4: Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready #1, Get Ready #2, Layla
Discs three and four feature Mid Valley’s version of the recently surfaced St. Louis soundboard from July, 25, 1974. This is the second appearance on silver disc for this show while Tarantura was the first to issue this tape on The Saint Louis Blues back in September 2006.
When comparing the sound quality they are almost identical although I found Mid Valley to have slightly more low end but Tarantura can be a bit more natural sounding and to say one sounds better than the other is debatable. The disc times are very close and Mid Valley could have sourced theirs from Tarantura.
Clapton plays a semi-acoustic version of “I Shot The Sheriff” here leaving George Terry to all the lead parts. George stays very melodic in the solos while Eric strums acoustic underneath. A very loose arrangement of “You Don’t Love Me” has the band truly winging it while no one really seems to know exactly where the changes are. “Willie And The Hand Jive” has good energy and is segued into “Get Ready” in the usual fashion. There is an interruption early on in “Get Ready” with an unexplained breakdown but the song comes back strong and has EC cracking up in the verse.
Clapton says “hello, goodnight” before blasting into “Layla” which reaches over twelve minutes tonight including Eric playing games with the band at the end. Sadly, the tape ends and probably misses 20 minutes of encores.
Mid Valley could have easily milked this release with two separate sources from New Orleans in a 4CD set but instead chose to pair two great sounding recordings with Talkin Bout New Orleans & St. Louis. Their budget price for this set also makes this more desirable than obtaining the two separate Tarantura titles. One strange thing about this release is that Mid Valley included four photo cards of Eric from the 11/26/70 Cincinnati Dominos show.