Eric Clapton – #1619 Royal Hotel (Tarantura TCDEC-39-1, 2)

#1619 Royal Hotel (Tarantura TCDEC-39-1, 2)

Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – October 23rd, 1975

Disc 1 (58:01):  Opening, Layla, Bell Bottom Blues, I Shot The Sheriff, As The Years Go Passing By, Can’t Find My Way Home, Badge

Disc 2 (61:48):  mc, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Blues Power, Teach Me To Be Your Woman, Tell The Truth, drum solo, jam, Tell The Truth (reprise), Further On Up The Road (encore), announcement

Eric Clapton opened his second tour of Japan with two shows at the Festival Hall in Osaka.  October 23rd was the second of the two and previously circulated on what has been called a “truly bad audience recording…listening to this is an exercise in audio masochism, recommended only for die-hard collectors.”  While it isn’t the greatest sounding recording, it is clear and somewhat listenable. 

Four songs, “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “As The Years Go Passing By” and “Badge” are included as bonus tracks on the vinyl release Tour 75 along with the complete October 22nd show. 

The same four songs are also included on 1975 Japan Tour Retrospective (Front Page FP-0040001/2/3).  The entire tape appears on the first two discs of the six disc set Got The Power (Slunky 03 A/B/C/D/E/F) with the October 24th Kyoto and November 1st Tokyo concerts.

#1619 Royal Hotel on Tarantura debuts a new Mr. Peach Eric Clapton recording.  The label have been pressing titles from this treasure trove of unreleased tapes producing true gems for collectors.  Whereas the old tape was fair, this new recording is very good bordering on excellent.  It is clear, well balanced and has a tremendous amount of presence capturing a vivid record of the show. 

It doesn’t capture the complete show however and Tarantura use the older tape source for a few seconds at the very beginning, a three minute gap in “Blues Power” between 12:55 to 15:55 and at 1:24 in “Further On Up The Road” straight to the closing announcements.  There is also a non-destructive cut after “As The Years Go Passing By.”  The edits between the two sources are very smooth and well handled.  

The show begins with the pairing of “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues,” something he did occasionally on the US tour the previous summer.  “Layla” is extended to almost nine minutes and, although it lacks the second part, does end with the strange “bird chirps” found on the studio recording. 

“I Shot The Sheriff” is stretched out past eleven minutes long with long guitar solos by both Clapton and Terry and is followed by the slower Albert King cover “As The Years Go Passing By.”  Passing eight minutes, Clapton plays a drawn-out, forlorn colored solo that is augmented by a bizarre synthesizer melody.  It is one of the highlights of this particular concert and a true rarity. 

Yvonne Elliman sings “Can’t Find My Way Home” with utter sincerity and “Badge” takes the stage by storm.  Not only do Clapton and Terry get into a duel, but they also seem to battle the Hammond while Levy and Elliman shout “love is my Badge!!” over and over again.  Afterwards there is a strange exchange on stage when Clapton reenacts the Monty Python.  He says, “…this next one is called ‘Albatross On A Stick.'”  Someone in the audience, who knows the routine, shouts, “what flavor is it?”  “Wadda mean what flavor?  It’s a seabird, a seabird flavor.” 

The same guy in the audience yells, “How much is it?”  “Nine pence” he says, finishing the impromptu skit.  The latter half of the show is centered around three long and interesting jams surrounding Levy’s performance of “Teach Me To Be Your Woman.” 

“Blues Power” is extended past fifteen minutes and, after some jamming they hit upon a foursquare gospel rhythm beat and extend that to almost four minutes in length.  They all get into it singing along while Levy and Elliman bang on the tambourines and Sims plays a country theme on the Hammond.  This is a style of music Clapton didn’t play much and sounds very interesting in this context. 

The set ends with a long version of “Tell The Truth” which includes a five minute drum solo.  A two and a half minute jam section following the drums is tracked separately but is still part of the track and is simply an appealing, syncopated rhythm over which Clapton lets out squeals on the guitar.  The encore “Further On Up The Road” ends the night with straight urban blues with the musicians taking their little solos. 

It’s a very tidy way to end what is an experimental performance all around.  The closing announcement is several minutes of the house announcer ending the show and the taper and his friends chatting about the show.  #1619 Royal Hotel is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve.     

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