Eric Clapton – Guild (Tarantura TCDEC-18~22)

Guild (Tarantura TCDEC-18~22)

Eric Patrick Clapton was born on March 30th, 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England, about seven miles south of Guildford.  His mother Patricia was only sixteen years old when he was born and his birth father, a twenty-four year old Quebecois named Fryer, left before he was even born.  He was essentially raised by his grandparents, thinking they were his parents and believing his mother was his older sister. 

His mother married another Canadian solider and relocated there leaving Eric in England, only to discover much later the truth of his family which, according to biographers, became a defining moment in his life.  The ambiguity of his identity probably is the foundation for his emotional musical tirades and extreme talent.

In the early seventies Clapton didn’t play many show in England in general and Surrey in particular.  He did a short tour in 1970 with Derek And The Dominoes.  In the two years of heavy touring after his comeback in 1974 and 1975 he ignored his home country until he scheduled a two week tour in the summer of 1976 for No Reason To Cry but with no shows near his hometown. 

He made a secret appearance with Ronnie Lane on Valentine’s Day in 1977 at the Cranleigh Civic Hall in Cranleigh (south of Guilford) where he played five songs (“How Come,” “Willie And The Hand Jive,” “Ooh-La-La,” “Goodnight Irene,” and “Alberta.”) 

The 1978 show in Guildford, the first concert in this collection, comes from the Backless tour and is the first complete, advertised show in Surrey since he was a kid fifteen years prior and established a pattern, heard on these recordings, of producing suprise guest starts and startling performances.

Guild is a collection by Tarantura presenting five shows over a ten year span between 1978 to 1988 documenting these shows in previously circulating and released tapes.  The sound quality varies, but in general all of the recordings are at listenable and enjoyable with a natural sound and running at the correct speed.  This boxset is limited to one hundred and thirty numbered copies. 

Each of the concerts is in its own single cardboard sleeve with relevant information, and the five sleeves fit in slots in a shuffle pack to hold them all together.  Each of the sleeves has photographs from the era if not the specific gig in question, and the only negative about this set is the fact that it is so limited.  This is one gorgeous production with definitive sounding, rare recordings which every Clapton collector should have.       


Guild 1978 (Tarantura TCDEC-18-1, 2) 

Civic Hall, Guildford, England – December 7th, 1978

Disc 1:  Opening, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Other, Worried Life Blues, Badge, Tulsa Time, Early In The Morning, Wonderful Tonight, introducing Robert Forrester

Disc 2:  Crossroads, Cocaine, Double Trouble, Layla, Standing Around Crying, Sad Sad Day, Further On Up The Road

Final show of the European Backless tour immediately preceded by two shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.  This tour is notable for second guitarist George Terry not accompanying Clapton on all of the dates and Marcy Levy parted ways by this time to pursue her own career.  The sound quality is slightly distant but the music is very clear, enjoyable and natural sounding. 

There is a small cut after “Early In The Morning” and after “Layla,” but no music is lost.  Previous releases of this tape include Ripley’s Son(Blackie 10/11) and Homecoming (Silver Horse SH-7802A/B) both in similar sound quality.  Guild 1978 sounds to be a slight upgrade over the other releases in terms of sound quality.   

The tape begins with Clapton saying “I’d like to dedicate this show to Rose, Hank and Syd, Adrian, Sylvia and all the rest of the family” and playing their cover of The Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” written by Stevie Wonder and Ivy Jo Hunter. 

The new song “Tulsa Time” is dedicated to the new band “except for me,” and segues perfectly into the slow nine minute blues “Early In The Morning.”  the first disc end with the thirty-six second introduction of Robert Forrester, Eric Clapton’s manager.  “Crossroads” is played in a unique, heavy arena rock arrangement in 4/4 time with a crash on the one.

Pinetop Perkins (piano), Bob Margolin (guitar), and Jerry Portney (harmonica) join the band on stage for the first encore “Standing Around Crying.”  Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins is most known as a blues piano player who had a hit with “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” at Sun Records in Memphis in the fifties and was a sidekick to Earl Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Willie “Big Eye” Smith at the time of this recording. 

At the age of 94, he is still active and recording, having won a Grammy in 2008 for Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas.  Bob “Steady Rollin'” Margolin was a backing guitarist for Muddy Waters in the seventies and can be seen playing in the movie The Last Waltz, and Jerry Portnoy is one of the world’s greatest harmonica players and also was in Muddy Waters’ band at that time before joining Clapton’s band.

Clapton and the band alone play the first encore “Sad Sad Day.”  The final encore is “Further On Up The Road.”  They begin playing the song and in the middle both Elton John and George Harrison join in on piano and guitar. 

There are no announcements (these two legends don’t need an introduction), but their entrance is more than obvious by the applause of the audience and the increase in volume of the piano and Harrison’s guitar in the song.  Thankfully the taper was able to capture the historic performance in its entirety. 

Backless is generally considerd a disappointment after the excellent Slowhand and the limitations of his touring band, together for five years at this point, were becoming apparent.  But in Guildford they were able to deliver an excellent performance in front of a warm hometown crowd.        


Guild 1980 (Tarantura TCDEC-19-1, 2) 

Civic Hall, Guildford, England – May 18th, 1980

Disc 1: Roll Over Beethoven, Tulsa Time, Early In The Morning, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, Country Boy, Hold On, Blues Power, Double Trouble, Setting Me Up, Thunder And Lightning, If I Don’t Be There By Morning

Disc 2:  Rambling On My Mind, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Home Lovin’, After Midnight, Cocaine, Further On Up the Road, Layla – Shut Up, Long Tall Sally, Lawdy Miss Clawdy  

The intervening eighteen months between the final Backless show in 1978 and the 1980 show in Guildford are called by some Clapton’s “nadir.”  Although the judgement is a bit harsh, it certainly was a strange time of transition.  After firing his so-called “American” band and hiring an “English” one, they toured throughout 1979 and recorded the live album Just One Night in Japan and released at the time of this show. 

The professionalism of the new band is obvious, but lacking was the flair for the jam so easy for the previous.  Clapton brought in Albert Lee and old friend Gary Brooker to record a new album.  The sessions occurred in March and April at Surry Sound Studios in Leatherhead, Surrey and afterwards embarked on a two week tour of England to test the new material in a live setting.  

The new album Turn Up Down was not released because Polydor felt there were too many contributions from Brooker and not enough Clapton (so the story goes).  The album has been given unofficial releases on E.C. Is Here (DJ Copy 026) and Mid Valley (MVR 056) but still has not been officially released although “Something Special,” “Hold Me Lord,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and “Rita Mae” were included on Another Ticket in 1981, which would be his  last LP for the label before switching to Warner Brothers. 

The May 18th show in Guildford is the final show of the short tour.  Two songs, “Country Boy” and “Thunder And Lightening” are included on disc three of the Further On Up The Crossroads (Why Not STBX027) compilation and the entire audience recording was previously issued on Eric Clapton Versus Jeff Beck (Zeus 2015001/2).

Fair is the best way to describe the sound quality.  The taper was distant from the stage and Clapton’s song introductions are a difficult to hear, but it is clear enough to be enjoyed and since there are very few Clapton tapes from 1980, all of them are precious since it offers a unique glimpse into this troubled time.  There are various small cuts between songs and “If I Don’t Be There By Morning” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” are incomplete.  What is audible is an intriguing performance in front of the hometown crowd beginning with “Roll Over Beethoven” from the opening act Chas & Dave.  

The lively “Tulsa Time” is followed by the languorous “Early In The Morning.”  Both “Lay Down Sally” and “Wonderful Tonight” are unique since they are augmented by an accordion.  Albert Lee sings the fast paced “Country Boy” and is followed by the rare “Hold On” with Brooker on vocals. 

Lee again takes vocals for the Dire Straits cover “Setting Me Up” which was also recorded for the live album Just One Night.  “Thunder And Lightening” is a rare performance of the unreleased song from Turn Up Down.  It is an effective gospel-inspired number.

Clapton’s speaking to the audience before “Rambling On My Mind” is inaudible making his introduction of Jeff Beck difficult to hear.  Beck adds his guitar histrionics on the piece.  It sounds like Beck is trying to shatter the glass windows with the high notes as Clapton shouts out the chords.  This song segues into “Have You Ever Loved A Woman?” 

This is the first time Beck plays with Clapton onstage and the interlude lasts more than ten minutes.  “How about Jeff?” Clapton asked afterwards.  “A return to sanity now” is his cryptic comment before they play “Home Lovin’.”  This Brooker original was scheduled to appear on Turn Up Down but can be found on his second solo album Lead Me To The Water instead.

“After Midnight” is a pure adrenaline rush being played at double speed.  After “Further On Up The Road” there is a strange interim on stage.  Since the tape is cut it’s difficult to know what precipitated it, but Clapton plays the opening notes to “Layla” out of tune and shouts “SHUT UP!!”  It sounds as if the audience were requesting the song all night and Clapton spitefully complies with their request. 

Two covers close the show.  “Long Tall Sally” with Lee on vocals, lasting ten minutes, is followed by “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” with Clapton playing many fluent boogie-style solos throughout the piece.  It cuts off after four and a half minutes but sounds as if it would go on all night if they chose.  It is a shame the sound quality is only fair to good since this is a fascinating concert, but in this condition is more than adequate to enjoy the atmosphere of this bizarre show.    

Guild 1983 (Tarantura TCDEC-20-1, 2) 

Civic Hall, Guildford, England – May 23rd, 1983

Disc 1:  Introduction, Tulsa Time, I Shot the Sheriff, Worried Life Blues, Lay Down Sally, Let it Rain, Double Trouble, Sweet Little Lisa, Shape I’m In, Wonderful Tonight, Blues Power, Sad Sad Day, Have You Ever Loved a Woman, Ramblin’ On My Mind

Disc 2:  Layla, Further On Up the Road, Cocaine, Roll Over Beethoven, You Won Again, Matchbox, Goodnight Irene

Clapton’s next appearance in Guildford was on December 22nd, 1982 when he was a guest star on Chas & Dave’s TV Christmas Special.  Videotaped at the Royal Club, Clapton played two songs, “Slow Down Linda” and “Good Night Irene,” and was joined by Albert Lee. 

The next full show was six months later on May 23rd, 1983. Guild 1983 is a complete audience recording of a very interesting night on the Money & Cigarettes tour.  The taper was fairly close to the stage and the music and talking are up front and clear.  Prior silver releases of this tape, Guilford 1983 (HB 913 1/2) in 1999 and Page & Collins(E.C. Is Here DJ Copy 132/133) in 2005 sounded a bit dull but Tarantura did an admirable job in making it sound more lively and engaging.

Money & Cigarettes was a very mellow and laid back album and the same goes for the subsequent tour.  It seems like he’s playing in slow motion for half the night with the emphasis upon majestic blues numbers like “Worried Life Blues”, “Double Trouble” and “The Shape You’re In”.  “Let It Rain” contains the sweet little raindrops on the piano and picks up tempo by the end with a blistering solo played over the strong hammond organ. 

“We’d like to feature Albert Lee now” is Clapton’s introduction before the “Sweet Little Lisa”.  “Blues Power” is played at almost double time and is an exception from the rest of the set list followed by yet another slow, majestic blues number “Sad Sad Sad” which segues directly into “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and “Ramblin’ On My Mind”. 

“Layla” is complete with piano coda, but doesn’t have the fire and passion of earlier versions.  It is the perfect way to end the set.  One wonders what forces were at work in Guilford that night, but this show is important for the extensive encores featuring Jimmy Page, Phil Collins, and Chas & Dave joining Clapton’s band. 

This represented the first time that Eric Clapton publicly played with Jimmy Page and is probably the first time they jammed together since the Immediate sessions in the mid sixties (and whose release would be a touchy issue between them for many years). 

This show is also a prelude to Page’s further collaboration with Clapton later in the year on the ARMS tour.  And Collins was between his solo album Hello, I Must Be Going, Genesis’ fourteenth album, and working with Robert Plant on The Principle Of Moments album and tour and plays on a second drum kit.  

He would work more extensively with Clapton later his next two album releases, Behind The Sun and AugustAfter the whole band in introduced to much applause the play a seven minute version of “Further On Up The Road” with both Clapton and Page taking turns playing a solo. 

Page’s sounds a lot like the one used in “Darlene” from Coda.  Chas & Dave are introduced as two reprobates after “Cocaine” and play a long version of “Roll Over Beethoven” and the Hank Williams tune “You Win Again”.  “Goodnight Irene” ends the evening as it would for the ARMS concerts too.  It is a great end to a great show. 

Guild 1985 (Tarantura TCDEC-21-1, 2) 

Civic Hall, Guildford, England – October 20th, 1985

Disc 1:  Introduction, Tulsa Time, Motherless Children, I Shot The Sheriff, Same Old Blues, Tangled In Love, White Room, You Got Me Hummin’, Wonderful Tonight, She’s Waiting, Lay Down Sally, Badge, Let It Rain

Disc 2:  Double Trouble, Cocaine, Layla, Knock On Wood, You Don’t Know Like I Know, Matchbox, Blue Suede Shoes, Goodnight Irene

After a tour of the UK and Scandinavia, two North American tours (including the career-boosting appearance at Live Aid in July) and a tour of Japan, Clapton played a one off show in Guilford on October 20th. 

This Sunday evening show was the day before his guest appearance in the television program “Carl Perkins & Friends:  A Rockabilly Session” taped at Limehouse Television Studios in London and before starting another tour of Europe beginning in Switzerland on October 23rd with emphasis upon Italian venues. 

This show can be found on the older release The Sentimentalist (Sunset Records ER 841125/3) and with a better sounding source on You Don’t Know Like I Know (DJ Copy 134/135).  The vocals and guitar are clear and up front but it is a bit boomy in places.  There is slight distortion in louder passages and the tape is a bit unstable during “Let It Rain,” but nothing to detract from the enjoyment of the show.

1985 was devoted to touring for his first collaboration with Phil Collins Behind The Sun.  Although this album was a huge hit and is considered to be his “comeback,” the synthesizer drenched arrangements of the classics are not to everyone’s taste. 

But they do present an interesting variation an well known songs.  The set list is similar to that used in Japan earlier in the month except for the encores, which means “Forever Man,” his biggest from the album, wouldn’t be played.  The show begins with “Tulsa Time” and, after Clapton says “Thank you, it’s nice to be back” (a punter by the microphone can be heard replying “It’s been a long time”) go straight into “Motherless Children.”

Every song in the set is polished and tight for the home town audience.  Clapton says before “I Shot The Sheriff,” “It’s gonna get very hot in here before the night’s out, innit?”  The first of two epic is played early on with “Same Old Blues,” a throwback to his guitar hero image and is followed by the slick, mid-eighties pop number “Tangled In Love.” 

He introduces back up singers Laura Creamer and Shaun Murphy.  Murphy is her usual verbose self and introduces the next song as a “splash from the past.”  Every boot release including Guild 1985 incorrectly lists this song as “Hungry For Love.”  What they sing is “You Got Me Hummin’,” a song written by Issac Hayes and David Porter and was a hit for Sam & Dave in 1966.  (It was covered seven years later by the Bay Area band Cold Blood and their rendition appears in the film Fillmore:  The Last Days with the great Lydia Pense on vocals.)

“Wonderful Tonight” and “She’s Waiting” are in a curious juxtaposition in the set list, and “Badge” and “Let It Rain” are segued together as was the custom on this era.  “Double Trouble” is the second long epic of the set and a great version of “Layla” closes the show.  

Phil Collins enters the stage to much applause for the encores, the first of which is a ragged cover of Otis Redding’s “Knock On Wood.”  They skip entire verses and Clapton sings both the Redding and Carla Thomas parts, although Murphy and Creamer do join in on the chorus.  “You Don’t Know Like I Know” written by Isaac Hayes and was a hit for Sam & Dave in the sixties

“And now I’d like to bring on a very special guest.  One of my childhood heroes.  And a great idol.  Mr. Carl Perkins.”  Changes the words in “Matchbox” from “I’m an ol’ poor boy, and I’m a / long way from home” to “I’m a Tennessee boy / but I feel like I’m home.”  They also played this the following day for the Rockabilly Session with Ringo on drums and taking a verse. 

“What an exciting night for a country boy from Memphis, Tennessee.  Ladies and gentlemen.  Eric, I want to thank you for giving me the privilege of walking out on this great stage in your home town.  And I know how you feel about this boy because I’ve been sitting up there in the audience and they’re great and I just wanna do this and you can join me for Eric Clapton.  And Mr. Phil Collins.  In 1955 I was living in a government housing project in Jackson, Tennessee and I wrote a little song that I’d like to dedicate to grandma…this song’s for you honey.”

They play “Blue Suede Shoes,” Perkins’ seminal hit before closing with “Goodnight Irene” with Clapton and Perkins trading verses.  Having the man who practically invented rockabilly and rock and roll live on stage is a special treat and this stands out as one of the best shows in this boxset.  Perkins would pass away several years later making this a poignant document. 

Guild 1988 (Tarantura TCDEC-22-1, 2) 

Civic Hall, Guildford, England – February 7th, 1988

Disc 1:  Opening, Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Wonderful Tonight, Run, Same Old Blues, Tearing Us Apart, Holy Mother

Disc 2:  Badge, Let It Rain, Cocaine, A Remark You Made, Layla, Behind The Mask, Sunshine Of Your Love, Money For Nothing, Further On Up The Road

The final concert in this collection is the February 7th, 1988 show at the Civic Hall.  This masterpiece occurs right after a nine night run at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  There was no new album associated with this tour (the latest studio album August was released in 1986), but rather these shows were a celebration of twenty-five years in the music industry. 

Mark Knopfer of Dire Straits joined him for the entire year and comes close, as in this show, to blowing Clapton off the stage.  This would be the last concert until two shows in June for the Prince’s Royal Trust, a US tour in September and a short tour of Japan with Elton John playing in the band.  The sound quality of this tape is nearly identical to the one from 1985 but with a bit more bass.  Previous releases include Civic Banquet (WER 15/16) and To Infinity and Beyond (Mid Valley 144/145).

The show kicks off with an incidinary “Crossroads” and the show never abates in intensity.  “White Room” recalls the days of Cream and “Wonderful Tonight” is gorgeous.  After the forgettable “Run” Clapton introduces Elton John to the stage, saying “We’d like to do a slow blues for you now and bring on a dear friend of mine.  Reg Dwight….You feel comfortable?” 

Over the next eighteen minutes they take turns jamming in the middle.  Nathan East plays a virtuoso bass solo followed by a cocktail piano solo by Elton John.  Clapton follows with an emotional masterpiece and East has to introduce him to the audience afterwards to a rapturous ovation!  

“Tearing Us Apart” is an innocuous disco number and is followed by the sublime “Holy Mother.”  Knopfler steals the show with his solo in “Badge” and the song is again segued with “Let It Rain.”  A funky synthesizer driven instrumental is played as a prelude to “Cocaine.”  

Afterwards Clapton says, “we’d like to dedicate this to the late, great Jaco Pastorius.  I hope you bear with us” and proceed to cover Pastorius’ “A Remark You Made.”  The slow tempo contemplative number abruptly ends after five minutes before the opening notes to “Layla.”  The point where John beings the second half of the song on piano is pure magic.

A seven minute elongated version of “Sunshine Of Your Love” closes the set with East in particular shining on vocals.  “Money For Nothing” is the first encore and sounds interesting with the backup singers.  Knopfler jokes around with Clapton by singing,  “Look at them yo-yo’s, yeah that’s the way you do it. You play the guitar, what’s his name? EC!” 

They jam on a basic 12-bar as Clapton takes his time introducing the band before the final, eight minute jam on “Further On Up The Road.”  They pound the blues notes hard in this one and alternate between playing piano and forté.  Everybody takes a solo including the second bass solo of the evening by East and Ferrone on the drums.  

After ten years and five recorded shows, it is obvious the special nature these concerts hold and why Tarantura chose to bind them together in this box set.  This is a unique way to tie several shows together but it works very well given the great performances, guest apperances and variety included.  

Guild is limited to 130 numbered copies and is packaged in a special shuffle box to hold the five individual sleeves. 

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  1. A very enjoyable release loaded with various special guests including Beck and Page. Some excellent performances in this box set and I have a deep respect for Clapton considering the hurdles he’s dealt with in his life. He’s battled addiction and lost a young child due to a very tragic accident. To try and overcome these and other issues, he’s written and performed some great music through the years and continues to even today. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the legacy he will one day leave behind.


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