Eric Clapton – The 13-Piece (Beano-014)

The 13-Piece (Beano-014)

Royal Albert Hall, London, UK – January 26th, 1990
Disc 1: Introduction, Pretending, Running On Faith, Breaking Point, I Shot the Sheriff, White Room, Can’t Find My Way Home, Bad Love, Lay Down Sally, Before You Accuse Me
Disc 2: Old Love, No Alibis, Tearing Us Apart, Wonderful Tonight, Member Introduction, Cocaine, A Remark You Made, Layla, Crossroads, Sunshine of Your Love

In 1990, Eric Clapton began recording shows for a proposed live project titled, Four Faces of Eric Clapton. The project consisted of four different line-ups, a four piece, thirteen piece, blues band and one with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, recording selected shows at the Royal Albert Hall. Somehow these plans got scraped although some of these recordings did get used on 24 Nights which also included RAH performances from 1991. This tape from January 26, 1990 features the thirteen piece band which included four horn players.

This is an excellent audience recording, only slightly boomy, but as good as or better than any Royal Albert Hall audience recording I’ve heard. The set list follows the same set previously used for the four piece lineup, excluding “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”.

The show starts with Greg Phillinganes’ piano introduction that leads right into “Pretending”. Eric then tells us that “This is the first night with the big band and I’m very excited about it” as they continue with more songs from the Journeymen album. The horns add extra power to Clapton’s songs, while not being overused or heavily emphasized. “I Shot the Sheriff” even has some flute melodies and runs directly into “White Room”.  There are a few quick comments around the recorder during “No Alibis” but it is really no big deal. This is the ultra slow version of “Wonderful Tonight” and is a nice change that fits in well with the bigger band setting. The remainder of the performance relies on old classics that were sure to bring the house down.

1990 had Clapton’s performances reaching new heights. The whole show has great energy, possibly some nervous energy from being the first night with the expanded band, and focuses on much of the new Journeymen material. None of these thirteen piece performances from 1990 were included in the 24 Nights project but instead they chose to include shows from the 1991 nine piece band which was basically the same lineup (Chuck Leavell replaced Alan Clark in 1991), without horns. It is certainly interesting to hear Clapton experimenting with horn arrangements and would be nice to see some of this get officially released someday. At least the February 1, 1990 performance by the thirteen piece band is documented as being professionally recorded. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a deluxe expanded 24 Nights sometime in the future.

Beano did a nice job with this title and it is recommended to Clapton enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates a good atmospheric audience source.

This show has been previously released as part of the 8CD Box Set Four Faces 1990 on the Hoochie Coochie label.

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