Makomanai Better (Tarantura TCDEC-66-1, 2)
Makomanai Ice Arena, Sapporo, Japan – October 4th, 1977
Disc1. Opening – The Core – I Shot the Sheriff – Double Trouble – Badge – Introduce Marcy – Marcy Levy On Stage – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out – One Night.
Disc2. Interval – We’re All The Way – Sign Language – Alberta – Cocaine – Key To The Highway – Layla – Encore Cheer – Further On Up The Road – Announcement.
Eric Clapton: Guitar, Vocals
George Terry: Guitar
Carl Radle: Bass
Jamie Oldaker: Drums
Dick Sims: Keyboards
Marcy Levy: Backing Vocals
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost and second largest island in Japan. The front cover of “Makomanai Better” displays a very simple drawing of the island but it still looks quite attractive to me. Front inside artwork shows a picture of both the venue – the Makomanai Ice Arena – and Mr. Peach‘s fabulous master tapes – a couple of Sony “Duad” C-90 tapes. The back inside artwork features a shot of EC, Marcy Levy and Card Radle onstage supposedly taken at the actual show. It would have been a good idea to also add a picture of the ticket to the show as featured on previous Tarantura releases such as “Yoru-No-Mado” and “Yume-Banchi” but still Pignosis’ artwork on “Makomanai Better” is a ten for me!!!
After “Yoru-No-Mado” and “Yume-Banchi“, “Makomanai Better” is Tarantura’s third successful attempt on the 1977 Tour Of Japan and you may be tempted to think that it might have a kind of deja vu effect on you…. It won’t. Promise.
The tape begins one minute before EC & His Band open with an amazing four of a kind hand. Subtlety has never been The Core‘s strong suit and tonight’s peformance reinforces that. It is a ten-minute tour-de-force with passionate vocals from Marcy Levy, powerful drumming from Jamie Oldaker and terrific soloing by both EC and George Terry that makes me tap my feet like nothing else!! An spectacular Sheriff steals a few smiles from me while I keep my eyes closed and my head swings like a pendulum. After that, EC launches into a killer version of Double Trouble: it’s a hell of a blues number in its purest state that sees EC make Blackie scream and moan as only he can. Badge takes us to the 45th minute of the show. EC shows his personal trademark flair on the first half and George Terry does a terrific job too after EC passes him the torch.
At this point we get a cut on the tape. The transition is made very smoothly and no music is lost and Marcy Levy’s introduction is complete too. Marcy – who is misspelled as “Mercy” on the artwork – says “Konbawa!” much to the crowd’s delight followed by “A song out of the Layla album!” before launching into Nobody Knows You whose first minute sees Marcy on her own with just a little accompaniment from EC on acoustic guitar. This first minute is a quiet passage and is when you will most notice a guy chatting near the taper. Once the band joins in that little crowd interference dissapears. Marcy also sings lead vocals on a second number: a nice cover version of Elvis Presley’s One Night that is enhanced by George Terry’s work on electric guitar. For some (strange) reason, the beginning to We’re All The Way is present at the end of Disc1 and then fades out.
With the performance of three more acoustic numbers – We’re All The Way, Sign Language and Alberta – it’s no surprise that the second half of the show does not match the intensity of exaltation that greeted The Core, Sheriff, Double Trouble and Badge. No tricky solos from George Terry on these ones but you still find some haunting playing here and there.
After Alberta you can hear the crowd cheering…. that’s because EC has strapped his electric guitar back on for an inspired Cocaine. Much to my amusement EC plays what I believe are the chords to Sunshine Of Your Love during the last minute of the song! I would love to hear if someone else noticed this?
Key To The Highway is dominated by Marcy Levy’s harmonica but clocking at 9+ minutes there’s room for Dick Sims on the keyboards and extended solos by EC and George. Clapton spits fire on Layla – undoubtedly a treasure – and closes the show with the same (or even more!) intensity as it started. Four minutes of crowd applause preceed the encore, which consists of an excellent rousing rendition of Further On Up The Road. EC won’t even say “Thank You!” to the audience before leaving the stage and the tape finishes with an announcement over the PA.
Tarantura just exceeded my expectations again. A release like “Makomanai Better” is the reason why you have to love boots so much: a complete show with no noticeable cuts, very little crowd interferences, a superb audience quality for the era and a very polished, immaculate presentation make “Makomanai Better” a joy of a title to own. Even if you own “Yoru-No-Mado” and “Yume-Banchi” you have to get this as well!! I just can’t stop wondering what this would have sounded like, had DAT recorders been available to Mr. Peach back in the 70’s…