The Core (Beano-037)
PNC, Vancouver, BC, Canada – February 1st, 1978
Disc 1 (75:36): Peaches & Diesel, Wonderful Tonight, Lay Down Sally, Next Time You See Her, The Core, We’re All The Way, Rodeo Man, Fool’s Paradise, Mean Old Frisco, Cocaine, Badge, Double Trouble, Better Make It Through The Today
Disc 2 (54:57): Let It Rain, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Nobody Knows You, Key To The Highway, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Layla, Further On Up The Road
Eric Clapton’s Slowhand LP split critics when it was released in November 1977 and continues to do so. Many see this as the beginning of his ten-year slide after the big 1974 comeback 461 Ocean Boulevard. They will argue that this is soft adult-rock, which is boring, and especially the cover of “Cocaine” to be overrated. On the other hand others will argue this to be a return to form by Clapton after two LPs, There’s One In Every Crowd and No Reason To Cry, that were more experimental.
Clapton’s tour in support of Slowhand began in Japan at the album’s release in late 1977. After taking a break for a few months, touring commenced in 1978 with this show in Vancouver and continued through Europe and the UK the rest of the year.
The Core (Beano-010) was one of Beano’s early releases and soon sold out and became very hard to find, even for the well connected Eric Clapton collector. This is a reissue of the earlier release, utilizing the same excellent sounding audience recording. The mastering has been lightened up a touch, so it doesn’t have that harsh, tinny feel to the sound.
Tinkering with tape is still evident, but it sounds much more natural than before. It still contains the same points of tape deterioration like at the very beginning of “Lay Down Sally” and the beginning of “Layla”. They don’t last too long and are not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the show.
In Japan, the Slowhand show started off with the epic “The Core.” Vancouver and the opening weeks of this tour start off with the instrumental “Peaches & Diesel” and a segue into a fast tempo “Wonderful Tonight.” Clapton’s guitar is a bit out of tune at the very beginning of the latter but it’s soon corrected.
“The Core” follows a fun version of “Next Time You See Her.” It features a great duet with Marcy Levy and an extended jam in the middle of the piece. It works better though as an opener. Clapton would open shows with it in March, but would eventual drop the piece entirely to never be played again.
Before “We’re All The Way” Clapton explains “I’d like to do a couple of songs that are a personal tribute to a friend of mine, who has given me direction the past couple of years, Don Williams.” Williams is the author of the song and his country / western style is evident on other songs on the album such as “Wonderful Tonight” and “Long Tall Sally.” In fact, this is a good source for hard to find live versions of “Rodeo Man” and “Mean Old Frisco.”
Clapton plays his version of Arthur Louis’ reggae cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” which is ironic since Bob Dylan was playing Arthur Louis’ reggae cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” at pretty much the same time.
And just as the first half of the set is tinged with the country numbers from the new album, the second half is a return to the blues. There are long versions of “Nobody Knows You,” “Key To The Highway” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” with very long and intense blues improvisations.
The set ends with a complete “Layla” with an eight minute long “Further On Up The Road,” one of he favorite songs for the encore. For those who never had a chance to pick up the first edition, this is provides and excellent opportunity to obtain it. It is one of the best shows from the Slowhand era containing one of the best audience recordings.