Two Edged Sword (Tricone 019/020/021/022/023/024)
Eric Clapton completed touring in 1987 with five shows in Japan. All of the shows were taped and have been in circulation before but Two Edged Sword presents three new tapes of the first, second and fifth nights all in very good to excellent sound quality.
In 1987 Clapton was joined by a stripped-down, four-man group with well-known session musicians on keyboards (Greg Phillinganes), bass (Nathan East) and drums (Steve Ferrone). Clapton’s style was described at this time as having an empahsis upon solo which “were all fairly similar, using his quicksilver articulation and his streaking lines and arpeggios to break into overdrive and stay there. There were some dazzling stretches with Mr. Clapton sprinting but they would have seemed more striking if there had been some contrast.”
The setlist for the Japan tour had an emphasis upon the classics tunes. But these are all reinterpreted with a late eighties pop sensibility which infuses the new material from August. Clapton was supported on all these dates by Robert Cray, the leader of the so-called 80s blues revival, as opener. Cray also joined in on “Further On Up The Road” to add his talent to the prceedings.
All of the shows in Japan were pressed several years ago on the influential Eric Clapton dedicated label EC Is Here on A Remark You Made (DJ Copy 114/115/116/117/118/119/120/121/122/123). This is a ten disc set with the five shows in the best sound quality available at the time. Remarks about the three tapes in comparison to the older sources are in the review for each individual show.
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – November 2nd, 1987
Disc 1 (61:19): Opening, Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Wonderful Tonight, Run, Same Old Blues
Disc 2 (70:02): Tearing Us Apart, Holy Mother, Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, A Remark You Made, Layla, Sunshine Of Your Love, Further On Up The Road
The tape used by EC Is Here A Remark You Made (DJ Copy 14/115) is a clear but distant recording with cuts in “Same Old Blues” and in “Further On Up the Road.” The new tape used by Tricone is much closer to the stage and has much more presence, capturing the dyamics of the performance. There are no cuts on the tape either, which means it presents the entire performance.
The US tour for August (such as it was since it was only twelve shows) ended on April 27th in New York. During the summer Clapton played several charity gigs and made some guest appearances, but the November 2nd Tokyo show is the fourth full concert in seven months (following three in Australia) and there is noticable rust present.
Like the US shows, the Japanese concerts started with a very slow version of “Crossroads” and “White Room,” two Cream songs. “Hung Up On Your Love” and “Miss You,” two songs from the latest album August, were dropped and not played at any of the Japan dates.
The centerpiece of the show is the half hour long jam “Same Old Blues” which in this show Clapton says, “we’re gonna play a song now from the southern region American now, and visit some old friends.” All of the musicians take their turns in the epic journey and, except for some hesitancy between transitions (sounds like some forgot when their turn was), it is a great showcase of their talent.
The audience make strange noises and shouts throughout the track, sounding as if they are growing impatient with the improvisations. “Sunshine Of Your Love” is the first encore and is followed by a great twelve minute “Further On Up The Road.” Robert Cray joins in on this number for all of the shows on the tour.
Budokan, Tokyo Japan – November 4th, 1987
Disc 3 (77:07): Opening, Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Wonderful Tonight, Run, Same Old Blues, Tearing Us Apart, Holy Mother
Disc 4 (48:14): Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, A Remark You Made, Layla, Further On Up The Road
The tape used on A Remark You Made (DJ Copy 116/117) is good but distant and a bit fuzzy. The new tape used by Tricone is an improvement. It is much closer to the stage with more clarity.
At the beginning is the keyboard introduction leading into the heavy rendition of “Crossroads.” Clapton tells the audience “we’ll do all the kinds of songs you like. This one’s called ‘White Room'” before the second number.
This evening’s “Same Old Blues” is much tighter than the previous night. Nathan East’s bass solo is loud enough to shake the rafters in the old building. The following numbers “Tearing Us Apart” and the hymn-like “Holy Mother” provide a startling contrast.
“Badge” is arranged to emphasize keyboards over the guitar and segues directly into “Let It Rain” with a different vocal melody than the old version. Clapton goes on about Jaco Pastorius before playing “A Remark You Made” as a prelude to a long version of “Layla.” The encores are kept simple tonight with only one song, “Further On Up The Road,” being played again with Cray as guest guitarist.
Osaka Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – November 9th, 1987
Disc 5 (71:40): Opening, Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Wonderful Tonight, Run, Same Old Blues, Tearing Us Apart
Disc 6 (74:30): Holy Mother, Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, A Remark You Made, Layla, Behind The Mask, Sunshine Of Your Love, Further On Up The Road
The November 9th show in Osaka was the final of the Japan tour and, except for a brief charity appearance in December, Clapton’s final live concert in 1987. The older tape source used on A Remark You Made (DJ Copy 122/123) is actually a bit better and clearer than the tape used on Two Edged Sword. The new tape is a bit more distant and fuzzy. While it’s not an improvement, it is still a good and listenable recording.
Osaka is one of the longest of the Japan shows. Not only because it contains an extra encore, but Clapton savors each of his solo breaks throughout the evening, squeezing out new meanings in the worn notes. It’s noticeable in the opening numbers but hits new heights during the very long “Same Old Blues.” The different musicians bring an amalgam of styles and influences into the piece. Even Clapton jokes about it, calling keyboardist Alan Clark Jerry Lee Lewis when he introduces him.
Clark also contributes some sweet work to a sublime version of “Holy Mother” and East adds some intriguing bass fills in “Badge” which ends with a quote from the Everly Brother’s “All I Want To Do Is Dream.” Before “Behind The Mask” Clapton dedicates the rest of the show to his guitar tech Lee Dickson.
Two Edged Sword is packaged in a six disc fatboy jewel case. Tricone offered the other two Japan shows as bonus cdrs that were given away in the store at the time of its release. The value of this title is in presenting three new tape sources that are all very good. And all of these are very good shows from the end of 1987, one of the last times he has material with such overt sensibilities of eighties pop and before his blues revival several years later.