Eric Clapton – The Lost Polydor Tapes “Archives Pathfinder” (Mid Valley 105/106/107/108/109/110)

The Lost Polydor Tapes “Archives Pathfinder” (Mid Valley 105/106/107/108/109/110)

The Lost Polydor Tapes “Archives Pathfinder” is an October 2001 Mid Valley release.  Over six discs, this covers outtakes and alternate mixes from three albums over a five year period.  Eric Clapton, released in 1970, his first solo album, 461 Ocean Boulevard was issued in 1974 and is considered to be one of his best solo releases, and its follow up There’s One In Every Crowd which wasn’t as successful.  These three make up his first three true solo albums (Layla released under Derek And The Dominos).

Mid Valley collect the sessions from various sources including The Unsurpassed Eric Clapton (Yellow Dog – YD 022), 461 Ocean Boulevard Sessions (EC In Person – EIP013), The Unreleased Sessions (Capricorn Records – CR-2048), Studio Session: Fool Like Me (DJ Copy 126/127) and There’s Another One in Every Crowd (DJ Copy 128/129), Alternative Tracks (ECAT 1101/02), and Living On Blues Power Volume 2 (Extremely X Rare – EXR21).  Other tracks are culled from rare official releases.

This set is authoritative simply because, despite the list above, titles with Clapton studio outtakes are very rare, unlike title for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones which are simply out of control.  Archives Pathfinder is the only comprehensive collection documenting any time period of his career.  Mid Valley package this in a six-disc fatboy jewel case with many photos from the album sessions themselves and accurate liner notes on the back.  And the sound quality is uniformly excellent for all the discs.      

Eric Clapton

Disc 1 (75:55):  Slunky – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Bad Boy – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Lonesome And A Long Way From Home – Delaney Bramlette Mix, After Midnight – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Blues Power – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Bottle Of Red Wine – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Lovin You Lovin Me – Delaney Bramlette Mix, I’ve Told You For The Last Time – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Don’t Know Why – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Let It Rain – Delaney Bramlette Mix, Bad Boy – Original Long Version, Lonesome And A Long Way From Home – Original Long Version, After Midnight – Original Long Version, Lovin You Lovin Me – Original Long Version, Don’t Know Why – Original Long Version, After Midnight – Alternate Mix #1, Blues Power – Alternate Mix, Bad Boy – Alternate Mix #1 With Different Vocal Take *1, Lovin’ You Lovin’ Me – Alternate Mix #1, Told You For The Last Time – Alternate Mix, Bad Boy – Alternate Mix #2 With Different Vocal Take *2

Disc 2 (71:36):  Lonesome And A Long Way From Home – Alternate Mix #1, Easy Now – Alternate Mix #1, Bad Boy – Alternate Mix #3 With Different Vocal Take *2, Bad Boy – Alternate Mix #4 With Different Vocal Take *2, Lonesome And A Long Way From Home – Alternate Mix #2, After Midnight – Alternate Mix #2, Lovin’ You Lovin’ Me – Alternate Mix #2, Don’t Know Why – Alternate Mix, Bottle Of Red Wine – Alternate Mix With Additional Guitar Play,  Slunky – Monaural Version, Bad Boy – Monaural Version, Lonesome And A Long Way From Home – Monaural Version, After Midnight – Monaural Version, Easy Now – Monaural Version, Blues Power – Monaural Version, Bottle Of Red Wine – Monaural Version, Lovin’ You Lovin’ Me – Monaural Version, Told You For The Last Time – Monaural Version, Don’t Know Why – Monaural Version, Let It Rain – Monaural Version

Eric Clapton is the eponymous debut solo album released in August of 1970.  Recording started at Olympic Studio in London in 1969 right before he toured with Delaney and Bonnie in Europe.  Five songs, “I’ve Told You For The Last Time” (with eight takes), “Lovin’ You, Lovin’ Me,” “I Don’t Know Why,” “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” and “She Rides” were recorded.  Only one track from this session, “Lovin’ You, Lovin’ Me” actually made it onto the album.

Sessions for Eric Clapton continued in Los Angeles in January 1970, and contributed the rest of the album.  Eric Clapton was mixed three times.  Delaney Bramlett did the first mix in LA.  According to Clapton:  “I left the tapes in LA with Delaney to mix them, and he was waiting on me to finish one of the tracks!  And he didn’t realize that I was waiting on him to mix the tracks and send them over.  Finally, my manger got kind of impatient and told Atlantic to send the tapes to me, and I mixed them very badly.  Atlantic heard them, didn’t like ’em.  Then they sent them to Tom Dowd who mixed them again.  So they were mixed three times in all.  Naturally I never heard Delaney’s mixes until it was too late – the record was already out.”  The version that was released on LP in August 1970 is thus the Dowd mix. 

The first half of disc one is occupied with the Bramlett mix.  This includes all the tracks that would subsequently be officially released on disc two of the 2006 Eric Clapton deluxe edition.  The Bramlett mix of “After Midnight” was also officially released in the Crossroads box-set in 1988. 

In general, the Bramlett mix emphasises the rawness of the guitars and adds more echo to the vocals.  The horn section is also given more place in the arrangements and all of this contributes to a heavier “live” sound compared to Dowd’s.  The sound quality on Mid Valley is excellent.  It is also unedited, leaving in some of the studio chatter edited out of the official release.  A prime example of this is “Blues Power,” which is forty seconds longer on Mid Valley with a short piano introduction.

The next five tracks, “Bad Boy,” “Lonesome And A Long Way From Home,” “After Midnight,” “Lovin You Lovin Me” and “Don’t Know Why” are all listed as “original long version.”  These are all identical to the Dowd mixes found on the official release but with longer fades.  The rest of disc one, and the first half of disc two, contains alternate mixes from the Bramlett Eric Clapton.  The only interest is in the volume and placement of the horns.  Some have more, some less. 

The most interesting of the lot is “Bottle Of Red Wine,” the “alternate mix with additional guitar play.”  It is actually shorter than the official version, but it has another guitar line in the mix that was omitted from the final product.  Its omission doesn’t significantly altar the arrangement, but it is a nice variation of the well known song.  The last part of disc two contains Eric Clapton in mono.

Two more Eric Clapton outtakes appear on disc six of this collection for space reasons.  “I Don’t Know Why” is from the the November 1969 sessions in Olympic Studio.  Lasting five minutes, the gospel tune is much more lush than the other version. 

“Blues In A – Instrumental Blues Jam” is a ten and a half minute slow instrumental blues in the key of A, and it is interesting since it foreshadows the long blues improvisation Clapton would includes on subsequent tours.  It was officially released in 1999 on The Blues on a rare bonus discs available only with early pressings.  Both of these songs would be included on the 2006 deluxe edition. 

Polyor, in addition to those two tracks, included the November 1969 Olympic recordings of “I’ve Told You For The Last Time” and “She Rides.”  The official version of “I’ve Told You For The Last Time” is a two and a half minute ditty, but the Olympic Studio recording is an almost seven minute long epic blues, masterful in construction and deserving of release.  “She Rides” is an early take on “Let It Rain” with the same melody and chords but slightly different lyrics.  Those two, plus several Delaney and Bonnie tunes make the deluxe version worth having in addition to the Mid Valley.

461 Ocean Boulevard 

Disc 3 (70:52):  Motherless Children – Jam, Motherless Children – Key Of “E”, Meet Me #1 – Instrumental Jam 1, Meet Me #2 – Instrumental Jam 2, Meet Me #3 – With Vocals, I Shot The Sheriff – Instrumental No Cut Long Version, Mainline Florida – Vocal: George Terry Early Version, Let It Grow – Instrumental, I Can’t Hold Out – Backing Track, Instrumental #1 – Key Of “A”, Instrumental #2 – Key Of “G”, Please Be With Me – Official Rough Mix, Gypsy / Early Please Be With Me, EC Solo Acoustic Version, Ain’t That Lovin’ You – Originally Unreleased Song

Disc 4 (74:30):  Something You Got – Previously Unreleased Song, It’s Too Late (To Be Sorry) – Fast Version, It’s Too Late (To Be Sorry) – Medium Tempo Version, Instrumental #3 – Key Of “F”, Instrumental #4 – Key Of “C#”, Jam In F – Instrumental Jam Key Of “F”, Jam In E #1 – Instrumental Jam Key Of “E”, Jam In E #2 – Instrumental Jam Key Of “E”, Dobro #1 – Give Me Strength Dobro Instrumental Version EC Only, Dobro #2 – Give Me Strength Dobro Instrumental With Bass & Guitar, Eric After Hours Blues – Instrumental Blues Jam, Walkin’ Down The Road – Original Unreleased Song

After an extremely busy 1970 ended, Clapton entered a period of relative retirement.  His participation in the Concert For Bangladesh in New York 1971 was one of the few appearances.  Polydor compensated by flooding the market with Eric Clapton product including the compilation LPs The History Of Eric Clapton in March 1972, Eric Clapton At His Best in September 1972, and Eric Clapton in 1973 and live albums such as In Concert (Derek And The Dominos) in January and Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert, both in 1973.

He entered the studio for his follow up in April and May, 1974 in Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida.  The resultant album 461 Ocean Boulevard was released in July.  It hit number one on Billboard in the US and as high as three in the UK, and “I Shot The Sheriff” also hit number one on the single charts.

The outtakes are more interesting than those for Eric Clapton, which consisted mostly of remixes.  Many long jam sessions are features on this discs, recorded by a band who were in the process of working with one another.  Except for Carl Radle, who handled bass for Derek And The Dominos, the other musicians had not worked with Clapton before.

Jam sessions of “Motherless Children” start off the sessions.  The first track bears a passing resemblance to the song, but the second take shares the final arrangement except is in the key of E.  A cover of Willie Dixon’s “Meet Me” follow.  The first two are seven minute long instrumental runthroughs.  The third is the final take with lyrics that appeared first on The Blues in 1999 and on the 2004 deluxe edition of 461 Ocean Boulevard.

The instrumental “I Shot The Sheriff” lasts for almost seven minutes and is the basis for the studio version.  Of course this lack vocals, but it does include the guitar solo that isn’t present on the studio release.  George Terry singing “Mainline Florida” follows.  This is Terry’s sole writing contribution to the album, and this sound like a rough studio run-through without any embellishments.  Terry himself has a good voice, and has fun shouting “rockets” during the instrumental passages.  

Several instrumentals follow on the disc.  “Let It Grow” and “I Can’t Hold Out” sound like the instrumental tracks used for the official release.  Two four minute long instrumentals, one in “A” and one in “G,” follow and sound like the improvs that would be used on stage in the subsequent tour. 

Following is an amateur demo of “Please Be With Me.”  It’s a simple recording of Clapton and Terry playing the tune and singing the words.  “Gypsy” is an version of “Please Be With Me” which features Clapton alone with the acoustic guitar, in contrast with the polished full band recording found on the album.  The disc ends with the Jimmy Reed cover “Ain’t That Loving You.”  It’s a polished outtake that first appeared on Crossroads 2 and subsequently on the 2004 461 Ocean Boulevard deluxe edition as an extra track.

Disc four opens with the unreleased track “Something You’ve Got,” an uptempo rock instrumental.  “It’s Never Too Late (To Be Sorry)” is another unused song.  The first take is a fast tempo rock version with Clapton and Yvonne Elliman repeating the title over and over again for two and a half minutes.  The second is slower and lasts for seven minutes.

Unnamed instrumental jams fill the middle of the disc.  The jam in the key of “F” is two and a half minute long fast paced gospel improvisation.  The following jam in C# lasts for almost twenty minutes and has two halfs.  The first half is a slower, syncopated blues number dominated by organ and duel guitars with both Terry and Clapton taking turns.  It then turns into a quicker paced rocking number with the guitars weaving the melody around an exaggerated bassline. 

Jam in F is a seven minute straight forward 12-bar blues.  This sounds much like the improves you can find on many Clapton live recordings.  It is followed by two jams in the key of E.  The first lasting eight minutes, is a catchy, fast paced funk jam.  The second lasts nearly as long and it returns to a heavier gospel feel. 

There are two jams which feature Clapton and Terry on the Dobro, playing what would be recorded as “Give Me Strength.”  Finally, “Eric After Hour Blues” is a five minute blues jam that first surfaced on the limited edition bonus disc that came with The Blues in 1999 and also is included on the 2004 deluxe edition of 461 Ocean Boulevard“Walkin’ Down The Road” is a fully polished outtake that also appears on Crossroads 2and on the deluxe edition.   

There’s One In Every Crowd

Disc 5 (69:28):  Pretty Blue Eyes – Different Instrumental Take, Fool Like Me – Originally Unreleased Song, Singin’ The Blues – Back Track Long Version, I Found Love #1 – Previously Unreleased, Instrumental Hard – Edge Guitar Version, I Found Love #2 – EC Vocals & Guitar Overdub, I Found Love #3 – Different Take With EC Vocals & Guitar, I Found Love #4 – Originally Unreleased Version, Match Box – Drunken Jam, It Hurts Me Too #1 – Different Take, It Hurts Me Too #2 – Originally Unreleased Song, Swing Low Sweet Chariot – Previously Unreleased Different Take, The Sky Is Crying – Alternate Mix Version Without Piano Overdub, Better Make It Through Today – Long Alternate Mix Version, Don’t Blame Me – Extended Version

Disc 6 (42:20):  Watcha Gonna Do #1 – Originally Unreleased Song With Peter Tosh, Watcha Gonna Do #2 – Originally Unreleased Song With Peter Tosh, High – Alternate Mix Version Without Guitar Solo & Second Chorus Overdub, Opposites – Alternate Mix Without Auld Lang Syne, Burial – Previously Unreleased Song With Peter Tosh, Swing Low Sweet Chariot – Previously Unreleased Different Take, Where There’s A Will There’s A Way – 1st Solo Album 1st Session, Don’t Know Why – 1st Solo Album 1st Session, Blues In A – Instrumental Blues Jam

After 461 Ocean Boulevard was released, Clapton went on his first solo tour beginning with two warm up dates in Scandinavia followed by almost two months in the US.  The quality of performances hovered between horribly self-indulgent, drunken spectacles and concerts which shows off his legend.  Following the final show on August 4th in Florida, he and the touring band convened in Jamaica to record a follow up.

There’s One In Every Crowd was recorded between August 28th and Septemer 18th at Dynamic Sounds Studio in Jamaica.  The musical style continued in the vein of “I Shot The Sheriff” with heavy reggae overtones, but also included were gospel and of course more blues.  There is also unique (for Clapton) forays into Beatlesque arrangements, something he wouldn’t duplicate in the future and is one of the unexplored facets of his work.

Emphasizing this, disc five starts off with an instrumental run through of “Pretty Blue Eyes.”  The arrangement is almost identical to final version including the long Beatlelike instrumental passage in the middle.  It is followed by a five minute heavy blues called “Fool Like Me.”  A nine minute instrumental take of “Singing The Blues” follows.  The studio cut is three and a half minutes and Clapton sometimes performed a nine minute version of the song live, but this studio outtake isn’t too interesting since it’s only the melody played for the duration with little to no soloing. 

Several takes of a song called “I Found A Love” follow.  Usually, when a song remains unreleased after almost thirty-five years there’s a reason why.  However, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for this.  It is an uptempo rocking song and is a true undiscovered jewel.  Several takes are included including a pure instrumental and several vocal takes with a feedback drenched guitar melody.  But the final polished take is driven by an aggressive piano to supplement Clapton’s guitar.  It’s a fun sounding song which deserves official release.  A loose, sloppy and drunken version of Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” follows.  

Two takes of Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too” follow.  A live version would be recorded and released twenty years later for From The Cradle, played at a faster tempo than these studio cuts.  “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” is an alternate take, but the same arrangement, of the song that would be included on There’s One In Every Crowd.  “The Sky Is Crying” is the same take found on the album but without the piano.  Finally, “Better Make It Through The Day” and “Don’t Blame Me” are the same cuts as on the album with with a bit longer count-ins.

“Watcha Gonna Do?” is a song written and performed with Peter Tosh.  A heavy reggae tune, it would appear in the Crossroads boxset in 1988.  “High” is an alternate mix of the commercial version but without the guitar solo and a second chorus, and “Opposites” is an alternate mix without the organ “Auld Lang Syne” at the end.  “Burial” is a cover of the Tosh tune which remains unreleased, and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” is an alternate mix of the commercial version.

Overall this is six hours of prime Clapton outtakes that are worth having.  Since its release several tracks have been released officially on the deluxe editions of Eric Clapton and 461 Ocean Boulevard.  However, there are tracks in this collection that still have not been released officially.  And There’s One In Every Crowd still has no deluxe edition available with outtakes and alternate takes (and most probably there won’t be).  Since Clapton studio sessions are not very common, this set is essential to have. 

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  1. “The first half of disc one is occupied with the Bramlett mix. This includes all the tracks that would subsequently be officially released on disc two of the 2006 Eric Clapton deluxe edition.”

    This is incorrect. The tracks marked “Delaney Bramlette Mix” are actually the Eric Clapton mix, which was mistakenly issued on vinyl and was previously bootlegged on The Unsurpassed Eric Clapton. The 2006 Deluxe Edition features the actual Delaney Bramlett mix, which is different.

  2. Superlative review!!! Thanks a ton!

  3. Excellent detailed review. This is a superb Mid Valley release that belongs in every Clapton collection.


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