With A Southand Smiles (Screamer-05044/45)
Civic Center, Providence, RI – July 10th, 1974
Disc 1: Intro, Smile, Don’t Have To Hurt Nobody, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Blues Power, Key To The Highway, Presence Of The Lord, Bright Lights Big City, I Can’t Hold Out
Disc 2: Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready, Little Wing, Layla, Little Queenie
Eric Clapton’s July 10th, 1974 Providence show was previously released as an eight song soundboard fragment on titles such as Blues Power on Chapter One (CO25137), Little Wing on Living Legend (RCD 095) and Steady Rolling Man on Hiwatt (HW 7/74). In December 2002 the Mid-Valley label released the four disc set Undercover (162/163/164/165) which for the first time contained the entire soundboard recording in excellent quality. Utilizing an audience recording, Screamer claim this is the first release of the complete show which simply isn’t true. This is the first release of the audience source, but the complete show has been issued and why they didn’t just re-release the Mid-Valley tape is strange.
This is a complete fair to good mono recording taped a distance from the stage. It sounds very similar to the ELP show three weeks after this show at the same venue. It is hampered further by the low volume from the PA (“LOUDER” someone shouts during “Don’t Have To Hurt Nobody”). My guess is the Screamer folks forgot about the Mid-Valley release. This might appeal to the Clapton collector who has to have everything, but I think this would have been an essential acquisition if they had used the complete soundboard as it is out of print, hard to find and very pricey. This does capture the audience reactions better as the soundboard is more sterile.
Be that as it may this tape is very listenable and the concert is great. “Please don’t throw things, you’ve already hurt one of us already” Clapton says before the first song “Smile”. It’s not known exactly who was hurt. “Blues Power” is played early in the set and is a nice mid tempo bridge to the more mellow material including “Presence Of The Lord”. “Willie And The Hand Jive”, “Get Ready” and “Little Wing” are segued together. “Little Wing” sounds majestic on this tape with the buzz saw riff gaining in intensity throughout the performance. “Layla” is only the first half of the song with the band cutting it off before the famous piano based coda. “Little Queenie” is very fun and ends the show well. Overall it’s hard to understand why Screamer chose the audience recording when an excellent soundboard is available. It would have made more sense if they played the “four-disc-set-with-both-tape-sources” game. In the end this is a caveat emptor release. Just know what you’re in for if you track it down, and perhaps one day some label will reissue the soundboard again in a reasonable package.