Eric Clapton – Just Two Nights (Tarantura TCDEC-40)

Just Two Nights(Tarantura TCDEC-40)

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 3rd & 4th, 1979

Disc 1 (54:19), Just 3rd Night, December 3rd:  Opening, Tulsa Time, Early In The Morning, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, If I Don’t Be There By Morning, Worried Life Blues, Country Boy, Double Trouble, All Our Past Times

Disc 2 (60:04):  Blues Power, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Setting Me Up, Rambling On My Mind, After Midnight, Cocaine, Layla, Further On Up The Road

Disc 3 (44:51), Just 4th Night, December 4th:  Opening, introduction by Roger Forrester, Tulsa Time, Wonderful Tonight, Blues Power, Double Trouble, Setting Me Up, Cocaine, Layla

When Eric Clapton replaced his long serving American band with the new English band in the middle of 1979, their first recording was the double live album Just One Night released in April, 1980.  It was recorded in one of the final nights of a long tour of the far east that included stops in Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines and ten in Japan. 

The two Tokyo shows were professionally recorded and the first, on December 3rd, was the one used for the live album which included all of the songs except for “Country Boy,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Layla.”  “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was issued three years later on Time Pieces 2 (Live In The Seventies).

Tarantura continue their project of offering never before released Eric Clapton tapes and on Just Two Nights they debut a complete audience recording of the December 3rd show for the first time.  It is a good to very good but distant mono recording with the complete show.

The performance is mixed with some stellar performances mixed in with mediocrity beginning with the first song “Tulsa Time.”  Keyboardist Chris Stainton distinguishes himself with a great piano but Clapton seems sluggish in the tune.  The traditional blues “Early In The Morning,” taken in a very slow and deliberate tempo, is much better with inventive soloing. 

“Wonderful Tonight” is played in its stage arrangement where Clapton never reproduces the haunting guitar melody of the studio version but plays one much fatter and slower and is followed by “If I Don’t Be There By Morning” where everybody takes a solo except Clapton.

Clapton introduces Albert Lee to sing “a nice country tune.”  “Country Boy” provides a fast honky tonk diversion from the main set.  “Double Trouble” is the first number that distinguishes this show.  It is taking at a slow, dirge pace with his guitar gently weeping in morose after morose riffs in what is a true masterpiece of atmosphere and can be counted as the definitive live version.  “All Our Times Past,” which follows, sounds banal afterwards.

The second disc begins with the second masterpiece of the evening.  A tight, fast version of “Blues Power,” it is driven by Stainton on boogie piano bringing out a completely new aspect of the piece.  At eight minutes long, it is another definitive version of one of Clapton’s classic songs.  “Rambling On My Mind” contains the midsection to “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.” 

The show hits the finale with “After Midnight,” “Cocaine,” which by this time became Clapton’s arena rock showcase, and a tired, feedback laden version “Layla” to close the show.  They play only the first half with extended guitar solos and Clapton thanking the audience in Japanese. 

This particular recording has never been included in any version of Just One Night or any compilation since and it’s easy to hear why.  It sounds as if the band tires greatly after playing a long tour.  He introduces the band before the encore “Further On Up The Road.”

The third disc, titled Just 4th Night, is a fragment of the December 4th show in the Budokan.  It comes from the same taper although he was more distant from the stage than on the 3rd.  It is a thin sounding fair to good mono recording with highlights from the show. 

Another complete, good sounding tape has been released before on Just The Second Night (Rocket Sound RS10031/2) and Another Just One Night (Blues Power 005/6).  This disc is good as a bonus although the sound quality and incompleteness insures it won’t be played more than once.  Just Two Nights is packaged in a box with the discs in cardboard sleeves and a miniature poster of the front cover.   

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