Three Smiles (E.C. Is Here DJ Copy 155/156/157)
Three Smiles is a three disc set featuring three soundboards from Eric Clapton’s first tour as a solo artist of North America. It began on June 28th in New Haven and ended six weeks later on August 4th in Palm Beach, Florida. A second leg, lasting two weeks was also done in late September and late October. The performances were erratic and had some high points like the July 20th show in Long Beach and lows like Buffalo on July 6th.
The three soundboards in this collection come from the first week in Chicago and the final week in Memphis and Alabama. These three tapes are very similar in sound quality. They are very good but high generation soundboards that are clear and enjoyable but somewhat dull, flat and hissy. They aren’t the best documents but are appealing to collectors since they contain some very interesting performances.
International Amphitheater, Chicago, IL – July 2nd, 1974
Disc 1 (70:25): Smile, Let It Grow, Can’t Find My Way Home, Blues Power, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Tell The Truth, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Let It Rain, Key To The Highway, Presence Of The Lord
The first disc is the soundboard from the first of two concerts at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. This tape was previously released on commercial boot on God Was Here (FAP-012/013) on the old Clapton label Further Along. That label wanted to cut down on the hiss but left the metallic crunch and distortion all over tape that was unfortunately very common several years ago.
EC Is Here left the tape pretty much alone so the hiss is present but so are the upper frequencies. Three Smiles also speed corrected the tape so it runs on pitch. This version is also a minute longer with more of the introduction, beginning with Legs Smith saying “Clapton!!!!” and Clapton saying “how about it? Can you dig it?…It’s nice to be back again”.
There are some changes in sound quality during “Let It Grow” that sound less jarring on this release than God Was Here. Overall this sounds much better than the older release and is a definite improvement.
The set list for this tour is notable for beginning with several mellow acoustic numbers that gradually build in intensity to the electric jamming jamborees. “Smile” opened every show and was followed by either “Let It Grow”, “Easy Now” or “Can’t Find My Way Home” or any combination of the three. This show has all but “Easy Now” with Clapton introducing the band early including his “out of tune” guitar Blackie right before “Blues Power”.
George Terry plays a nice guitar solo in “Let It Grow”. “Willie And The Hand Jive”, “Get Ready” and “Let It Rain” are all segued together. The tape ends with “Presence Of The Lord” with the encores, if any were played, missing like on all three of the tapes in this collection.
Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN – July 28th, 1974
Disc 2 (77:32): Smile, Easy Now, Let It Rain, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Tell The Truth, I Can’t Hold Out, Badge, I Shot The Sheriff, Layla, Crossroads
The Memphis show had Clapton headlining a bill that included a band called Ross followed by Foghat and Lynyrd Skynrd. This soundboard tape was released previously on Fire Power as I Can’t Hold Out (FP-08). Three Smiles is more than four minutes longer than the older version. Fire Power also enhanced the tape to make it more rich sounding whereas this sounds much more dull and flat. Except for the length this isn’t an improvement at all.
There are two massive cuts on the tape where “I Shot The Sheriff” cuts out after five minutes and most of “Layla” is cut, fading in for the final two minutes of the song. But the show is noted for the great arrangement of “Easy Now”, which starts off very quiet on acoustic with the band joining in later. “Crossroads” is also played in a new arrangement that is more blues oriented rather than the Cream version, which is more rock.
Legion Field, Birmingham, AL – July 29th, 1974
Disc 3 (78:03): Smile, Let It Grow, Layla, Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Key To The Highway, I Shot The Sheriff, Badge, Tell The Truth, Let It Rain
The third disc is a soundboard that claims to be from the evening following the Memphis gig at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama on July 29th. This is a previously undocumented and unreleased tape. There is no mention of the state, city, venue or date but it seems to be genuine. It has a beginning very similar to the July 20th Long Beach soundboard with the introduction and Clapton saying “Legs Al!…If we’re all sitting comfortably we’ll begin” before “Smile”.
Long Beach was used for a bogus July 30th New Orleans release on cdr, but the difference is that Clapton says “Legs Al” once instead of twice and doesn’t say “oops a daisy” as he does in Long Beach. After doing a comparison with all of the known set lists from 1974 this is doesn’t match any. WGPSEC also can confirm this is, as far as he can tell, an unique tape so we can take this as face value.
The Alabama tape is very similar in tone to the other two in this collection, probably why they are all grouped together. It sounds like a high generation tape with some hiss present and overall sounding a bit dull. There is a cut before “I Shot The Sheriff” and a small one in “Tell The Truth”. And also like the other two there are no encores present. The acoustic beginning is very short with fast versions of “Smile” and “Let It Grow”.
It sounds like Clapton is impatient and wants to go electric early. “This one’s for Donner and Galadriel” he says before “Layla”. “Willie And The Hand Jive” is paired with “Get Ready” as usual on this tour but the definite highlight of the set is “Tell The Truth”. Clapton’s jams are very inventive and he ends the song by playing The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”.
“Let It Rain” is the set closer for only the second known time on this tour. It is a tape that will interest Clapton collectors because it is new and authentic and for that reason Three Smiles is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)