A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Tarantura TCDEC-43)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 7th, 1981
Disc 1 (45:11): Tulsa Time, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, I Shot The Sheriff, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Country Boy, Double Trouble
Disc 2 (42:59): Blues Power, Blow Wind Blow, Motherless Children, Rambling On My Mind, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Cocaine, Further On Up The Road
A Whiter Shade Of Pale presents a new tape source for the Budokan show on December 7th, 1981 after Clapton released Another Ticket. The year was planned on being busy with touring commitments but the long US tour was cancelled when he collapsed on stage during the eight show in Madison, Wisconsin on March 13th. Forty-nine shows were canceled as a result. The year was salvaged with the four Secret Policeman’s Other Ball shows in September, a short tour of Scandinavia and eight dates in Japan.
Although many tapes exist, few have made their way onto silver pressed titles. The December 7th show is the only one played in the Budokan and has a prior silver release on Japan Tour 1981(EC Rarities ECR-003/4) with a fair sounding audience recording.
Tarantura, as they have been doing, found and pressed a new tape source for this date. It is a very clear and powerful recording taped very close to the stage with an emphasis upon the lower frequencies. There are no major cuts in the tape and all of the music is present.
Clapton’s health concerns were a shame because the new album was one of his strongest in years but has since lapsed into obscurity. It is also bizarre, looking at the set lists during this period, that so few songs from the new album were played. The Muddy Waters cover “Blow Wind Blow” and “Another Ticket” are the more common inclusions with “Rita Mae” appearing in a few shows as well.
The weight of the set rests upon the standard stage pieces that made up the performances for the past couple of tours. Opening the show with three well played tunes, “Tulsa Time,” “Lay Down Sally” and “Wonderful Tonight,” they pull out an “After Midnight” played in double time. It’s a pure adrenaline rush to hear the tightness of this particular ensemble.
A wonderful version of “I Shot The Sheriff” is followed by two non-Clapton performances. “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” is sung by ex-Procol Harum Gary Brooker who had been hired to be the musical director of the band. He delivers a gorgeous performance of one of the most significant rock songs written and Clapton even joins in. “Now it’s time for my bit” Albert Lee says before his number “Country Boy.” This song was included in the set for years and it a humerious country diversion from the rest but is utterly dispensable. The first disc ends with “Double Trouble,” the first time in the night where Clapton shows his soloing prowess.
“Blues Power” is about six minutes long and although the improvisations are kept down is still quite effective. A commotion in the crowd is audible before “Blow Wind Blow” but, without knowing the language it is hard to understand exactly what is going on. The majestic “Rambling On My Mind” segues perfectly with “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and the set ends with “Cocaine” instead of the expected “Layla.”
Four full minutes of audience cheering precedes the sole encore “Further On Up The Road” with Brooker sharing vocals with Clapton. The tape continues after the final “sayonara” is said with 10CC’s “The Things We Do For Love” audible over the PA as a female voice gives instructions. The picture dics for A Whiter Shade Of Paleare housed in sleeves which are stored in a box with a mini-poster of the front cover and overall is another solid Eric Clapton release by Tarantura.