Behind The God (Tarantura TCDEC-42)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – October 21, 1993
Disc 1 (64:39): Tozai line / Kudanshita station, ticket dealers, goods stand, admission / camera check, announcement, buzzer, announcement, Eric Clapton appears, Malted Milk, Terraplane Blues, How Long, 32-20, Kidman Blues, The County Jail, Forty Four, Blues Leave Me Alone, Tell Me Mama
Disc 2 (79:50): White Room, Badge, Wonderful Tonight, Stone Free, Circus Has Left Town, Tears In Heaven, Crossroads, Tearing Us Apart, Groaning The Blues, Cocaine, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Layla, See You Again, announcement, regulated leaving, ticket information, goods information, regulated leaving
1993 was the beginning of a three year period where the maestro focus upon his blues roots with set lists drawn from obscure blues covers, the From The Cradle era. It was also a relatively light year of touring. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with Cream and performed three numbers with the band at the January induction.
Twelve concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in February along with several charity appearances preceded his longest tour of Japan to date. Beginning on October 12th, he played fourteen shows over two weeks.
Behind The God presents a new tape source for the first Tokyo date on the tour. Crypton the same taper responsible for the December 17th, 1991 George Harrison and Eric Clapton tape and is very clear but slightly distant from the stage. And like his other tapes, he turned his DAT recorder on at the train station and kept it running throughout the trip.
Although some collectors would disagree, Tarantura might have included this material per request of the taper. In any event, given the advanced state of technology many collectors have the ability to skip over material they don’t want to hear and start listening later in the disc when Clapton comes on stage and starts playing.
Unlike the Royal Albert Hall set of shows, which were all blues covers, in Japan Eric Clapton reintroduced some of his original classics. The set follows a rough chronological order beginning with two numbers by Robert Johnson.
Although Clapton himself refers to Johnson as the king of the delta blues, it is probably more accurate to say he is the godfather of rock and roll since Charlie Patton has a more legitimate claim to founding the blues. Since Clapton can be quite orthodox in his interpretation of the blues, the first two songs are sung with acoustic guitar as they are found on the original Vocalion recordings.
He follows with Leroy Carr’s first hit “How Long,” originally released in 1928. Chris Stainton faithfully duplicates the intricate piano fills with Clapton’s guitar in an overall excellent cover of the classic. The true highlight of the first half is the cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Forty-Four.” It’s chunky rhythm and the melody played on the harmonica are a dazzling display of virtuosity which the audience appreciate.
The second half of the show contains the well known stage classics from Clapton’s repertoire beginning with two Cream songs, “White Room” and “Badge.” He adds a tribute to Jimi Hendrix with an excellent cover of “Stone Free.” Two new songs follow, “Circus Has Left Town” and “Tears In Heaven” both of which were recorded and broadcast on MTV Unplugged the previous year.
“Circus Has Left Town” is a stunning performance and is much more effective than the final version that would be recorded for Pilgrim five years later. “Tearing Us Apart” is a surprise addition and the only acknowledgement of his 80s output. The addition of the Kick Horns ensemble adds a level of polish to this song.
“Cocaine” is slowed down and features heavy wah-wah on guitars, subdued brass and an interesting harmonica solo in the middle. The set ends with a silly cover of Bessie Smith’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” and “Layla” is the inevitable encore. Behind The God is packaged in a box with poster with very nice graphics on the cover. Since it is a brand new great sounding tape of a show that has never circulated before it is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)