Blues Reversion – His Alibi For The First Night – (Tarantura TCDEC-50-1,2)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 4, 1990
Disc1 (79:56). SE/ All Right Now (Free) – SE/ Walk Away (James Gang) – SE – Layla (Orchestra Intro) – Pretending – No Alibis – Running On Faith – I Shot The Sheriff – White Room – Can’t Find My Way Home – Bad Love – Before You Accuse Me – Old Love.
Disc2 (79:17). Badge – Wonderful Tonight – Band intro – Cocaine – Layla – Driftin’ Blues – Crossroads – Sunshine Of Your Love ~ Two Trains Coming (a.k.a. Cat Fish Blues) ~ Drum Solo ~ Sunshine Of Your Love – Otsukaresama Deshita! – SE – Ending Announcement – Concert Goods Information.
Band Lineup: EC (Guitar, Vocals) – Phil Palmer (Guitar) – Nathan East (Bass) – Steve Ferrone (Drums) – Greg Phillinganes (Keyboards) – Ray Cooper (Percussion) – Tessa Niles & Katie Kissoon (Backing Vocals).
1990 brought us a mammoth World Tour in support of the “Journeyman” album: 3 shows in Manchester, UK in mid January preceeded a 18-date stint at the RAH which would be followed by a 14-date tour in Europe to end on March 5th. The first leg of the US tour would kick off in Atlanta, GA. on March 28th and would come to an end in San Francisco, CA. on May 5th after a very busy month of April with a total of 28 shows performed. The second leg of the tour started in Miami, FL. on July 21st and finished in Biloxi, MS on September 2nd after 29 gigs. (It was after the show in Alpine Valley on August 26th that Stevie Ray Vaughan and some members of the EC crew died in a helicopter crash. EC decided to play the last five dates of the tour as a tribute to them). The tour would then resume again in late September for twenty odd more dates in South America, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong before the final 7-date Tour of Japan which would put a definitive end to the World Tour in Yokohama on December 13th.
“Blues Reversion” gives us evidence of the first night of the Japan Tour and, according to the notes on the back cover, comes from Mr. Crypton’s first ever recording on DAT equipment, which turned out to be a very successful experiment. A picture of the actual recorder used is featured on the inner artwork for a complete bootleg experience.
This first night of the tour has been previously documented by Masterport’s “Maximum Time In 8 Nights” (a misleading title indeed) and MidValley’s “Seven Nights Of Pleasure” (a yet more misleading title since this box set features just 4 shows), but “Blues Reversion” has got to be my favourite tape of all, with a great crystal clear sound.
Disc1 one begins with some pre-concert announcements and music over the PA system before a taped orchestral intro of Layla marks the official beginning of the show. It starts with three songs off the “Journeyman” album. Pretending is the first song of the night, the band sounds tight (how could they not?) and it features some great lead playing from EC. No Alibis has been a favourite of mine since I first listened to it when I was 16. It is a pop-oriented song but I love to listen EC’s blues-based guitar licks there… Running On Faith is closer to the original cut on “Journeyman” than it is these days, with EC’s playing being tighter and much more prominent.
I Shot The Sheriff is once again a winner horse: EC plays his heart out on an outstanding outro that segues into a powerful, rocking version of White Room. Not my favourite solo ever but still a solid one. The evocative Can’t Find My Way Home features Nathan East on vocals and sees EC switch to acoustic guitar for a while. The intro that he plays is quite effective. Nathan East and Greg Phillinganes also play short solos on bass and keyboards respectively… I would have preferred a guitar solo instead but “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” someone said once.
Then it’s Journeyman time again. Bad Love, which EC originally co-wrote along with Foreigner’s Mick Jones, is a kind of Badge revisited. Just give EC room to build an extended solo and a hit you’ll have. To prove me correct, let me tell you EC was awarded a Grammy back in 1991 for this song…. though it is quite ironic that the Award he won was for Best Male Rock Vocal!!). Before You Accuse Me is long at 10 minutes featuring solos from all band members, but it is an ephemeral song that you will have forgotten when you listen to Old Love. EC steals the song with two stunning solos – making it without doubt, the best number on Disc1 along with Sheriff. There are times during this song that it seems like the show is taking place in Italy rather than in Japan, as quite a few people can be heard shouting and eventually going nuts!
I’ve always thought that Badge never sounded better live than it did back in the mid seventies. I maintain that (how I miss those extended guitar solos!)… but there is one vital similarity between those times and this tour that makes me particularly like this version: both solos – the first one and the closing one – are guitar solos! With EC playing some nice melodic licks and with the help of Katie Kissoon’s lovely vocal work, Wonderful Tonight results in one of the most seductive versions ever. The introduction of the band gives way to an impassionate rendition of Cocaine.
For many many tours the intro to Layla was Jaco Pastorious’ A Remark You Made. 1990 was one of those tours. Nathan East explained how that happened. “Eric had a copy of Weather Report’s “Heavy Weather”, and that’s all he would listen to. When Jaco died, we decided to do a tribute. The song “A Remark You Made” touched everybody, so we began fooling around with it during soundchecks, and it ultimately became the introduction to Layla”. The rendition of Layla is lovingly performed and is an excellent closer to the show.
No cuts of any kind are present on the tape. Therefore, we get all of the five minutes of crowd applause. The encore consists of an instrumental version of Driftin’ which also serves as the intro to a great Crossroads. Sunshine Of Your Love is absolutely stunning. EC’s playing is terrific, the instrumental blues number that goes before the drum solo is very nice and even the drum solo itself is bearable – the fact that is just one and half minutes long surely helps.
Before the band leave the stage Nathan East (or could it be Greg Phillinganes?) is heard saying Otsukaresama Deshita! to the audience, which is a specific form of saying Thank You!, and is usually said at the end of the day either at work or school. Final tracks on Disc2 feature some post concert announcements over the PA.
“Blues Reversion” is a 2CD set of a great tour featuring a very good performance with quite a few highlights. Definitely worth acquiring, you are likely to be sorry if you don’t get yourself a copy…
And I, too, join in what slowhander and Mr. Sparaco write about this great release. Not being a collector of Eric Clapton’s live solo work, I did not hesitate in picking this one up as the Journeyman material was always appealing and there’s a pro shot video of him playing this set with Phil Collins on drums (I think….). Tarantura’s title here is gorgeous to behold, and to hear. Many thumbs up to that label for continuing to produce extremely desirable concert recordings.
I have to agree with Slowhander’s comments. Tarantura continue to provide amazing quality, previously uncirculated Eric Clapton tapes.