Colston Hall 1969 (Mid Valley MVR 567)
Colston Hall, Bristol, England – December 2nd, 1969
(48:57), first show: Introduction, Opening Jam, Only You Know And I Know, Things Get Better, I Don’t Know Why, Where There’s A Will There’s A Way, Coming Home, I Don’t Want To Discuss It, message from promoter. second show: introduction, opening jam
Colston Hall 1969is a nice treat from Mid Valley records. They use a new, previously uncirculated soundboard recording of the first set and the opening jam of the second. It is very clear and enjoyable whose only drawback is that the horn section is buried under the guitars in the mix. This is probably a good thing since Eric Clapton is the focus of interest, not Bobby Keyes. There is a cut in the tape after “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way”
It is remarkable how much wandering Clapton did in the late sixties and early seventies, attempting to find some kind of authentic artistic expression. This lead him several times to find the root of his inspiration in American blues. This was true after leaving the Yardbirds for John Mayall and especially true after breaking up Cream. In the year since the supergroup called it day he went through Blind Faith only to wind up with the authentic American blues musicians in Delaney and Bonnie. In his autobiography, Eric Clapton said: “For me, going on [with Blind Faith] after Delaney and Bonnie was really, really tough, because I thought they were miles better than us.”
Clapton’s association with Delaney & Bonnie began after the demise of Blind Faith and his one-off with the Plastic Ono Band in Toronto. The first were four live shows in Germany before as seven date tour of the UK beginning on December 1st at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Bristol was the second night and had and early and evening show. The full band consisted of Bonnie Bramlett (vocals), Delaney Bramlett (guitar, vocals), Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals), Dave Mason (guitar), Carl Radle (bass guitar), Bobby Whitlock (organ, keyboards, vocals), Rita Coolidge (backing vocals), Jim Gordon (drums, percussion), Tex Johnson (percussion), Bobby Keys (saxophones) and Jim Price (trombone, trumpet, horns).
The tape opens with Dave Mason saying, “we’d like to bring on Eric Clapton and the friends.” The opening jam is with the band minus the two named stars, Delaney & Bonnie. The instrumental jam in is the same vein as the jamming heard on the Derek And The Dominoes and recorded on George Harrison’s LP All Things Must Pass.
What follows is an energetic but way too short set. At the end of “I Don’t Know Why,” Delaney says they had just recorded “Where There’s A Will,” so they are fresh from the studio at the time of this recording. Mason comes back on microphone after the final song to encourage the audience to cheer louder for an encore. However, after calls and complaints about the non appearance of Beatle George Harrison, Mason tell them that Harrison is not present and won’t appear. Then the promoter comes on stage and tell them to leave for the second audience to come in and threatens them with arrest if they don’t move. The tape ends with the introduction and opening jam for the late show, also from the soundboard in excellent quality.
Overall this is a great surprise by Mid Valley and for the Eric Clapton collector. Not only is it a previously unheard show, but having it in excellent quality the inherent drama of the time makes it an excellent time capsule of the era. Mid Valley packages it in a singles jewel case instead of a normal one. It has one insert for the case. The packaging is beyond cheap for such a label and for the importance of the tape. This label’s packaging has been really bad since the change in management last year.