Purple Haze (Tarantura TCDED-13-1, 2)
Sunpukaikan, Shizuoka, Japan – October 29th, 1975
Disc 1: Opening, Layla, Little Wing, Blues Power, Can’t Find My Way Home, So Many Lord Blues, Stormy Monday
Disc 2: tuning, Badge, Sun Is Shining, Tell The Truth, Eyesight To The Blind, Carnival
Purple Haze presents a new tape source for Eric Clapton’s October 29th, 1975 show at the Sun Plaza in Shizuka, Japan. An older, very good tape source exists for this show and has been pressed before on Eyesight To The Blind (Dirty 13 D13-013A/B). This new source is distant but the music is loud and clear enabling the taper to capture the atmosphere of the show perfectly. Unfortunately, the tape runs 2.5% too slow and detracts from what otherwise would be another sterling Eric Clapton release on the Tarantura label.
There are minor cuts between some of the tracks but is otherwise musically complete. The tracking is slightly off too: the introduction before “Can’t Find My Way Home,” where Clapton plays the opening riff to “Purple Haze,” is tracked separately as is the minute long tuning before “Badge” on disc two. What is listed on disc one as “So Many Lord Blues” is a cover of Otis Rush’s “So Many Roads” with references to “Stormy Monday” included in the long improvisation. Shizuoka is in the middle of Clapton’s second tour of Japan occurring almost exactly a year after the first. This is the fifth of seven total dates and is followed by the two Budokan shows.
In the intervening year two albums were released, There’s One In Every Crowd and the live album E.C. Is Here. Curiously, nothing from the latest studio albums are played in this concert. Four songs, including the opening two, date from Derek And The Dominos’ Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs and it isn’t until the spectacular encore section where anything brand new is attempted. Clapton is supported by the same band as the previous trip and the mellow, acoustic numbers were dropped in favor of a full electric set.
“Layla” is a good opener and features Clapton playing off of George Terry very well during the long improvisation. After a long tuning the band launch into “Little Wing” to the appreciation of the audience. “Blues Power” reaches almost fifteen minutes with extended soloing in the middle. Afterwards Clapton introduces Elliman who attempts to speak in Japanese and laughs out of embarrassment. Clapton plays the opening to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” before order is restored and Elliman introduces the next song “I Can’t Find My Way Home.” The song really drags on this tape before it ends six minutes later.
There is a small cut in the tape right after this song eliminating the applause. “We’d like to take you even further down” is Clapton’s cryptic introduction to “So Many Roads.” It begins similar to Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and is a long, majestic blues that reaches fifteen minutes in duration. This is the version first recorded by Otis Rush and also goes under the name “So Many Roads, So Many Trains.” John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers covered this tune in the past so it is very familiar to Clapton. This version is interesting because it also includes an electric piano solo caught up in the middle on Clapton’s genius blues soloing. Disc two begins with a minute of tuning before Clapton introduces the next song, “This is called BAD-GE. It’s about a badger.” The favored arrangement is to play the first verses before a long percussion solo by Jimmy Oldaker. At five minutes twenty-seven seconds into the track Clapton forgets his vocal cue and comes in late with the second verse before the six minute drum solo in middle. The band returns for the closing section of the track, repeating, “love is my badge.”
Afterwards Clapton introduces Marcy Levy for her solo spot “The Sun Is Shining” in a thick Japanese accent, “Rovery Rady named Marcy Revy!” Some girls in the audience shout out Eric’s name before he says, “Dis is de last number of de show. You get the message? The epitome of it all” before “Tell The Truth.” Marcy Levy sings the second verse before the long guitar solo which features Clapton and Terry playing a duel with slide guitars. After several minutes of audience clapping the band come out for the encores and ironically contain the only brand new material. The spectacular “Eyesight For The Blind” comes from the film Tommy which was released the previous spring. The frenetic percussion and the strong Hammond organ presence in the middle bring a strong Santana vibe to the song.
The driving riff and the soloing above the rhythm makes this song a highlight both in the movie and this concert. After ten minutes the band leaves Oldaker alone as Clapton introduces the second encore number, “dedicated to Dana and Will because it is their birthday today and they like this song.” “Carnival” is a song Clapton worked on the previous July with the Rolling Stones in New York where it was given the provisional title “Carnival To Rio.” The final version would appear on the 1976 LP No Reason To Cry. It is great that Tarantura are unearthing all these previously unknown Eric Clapton tapes from Japan. The sound quality of this one is very good and Purple Haze could have been a killer release if the speed were corrected. It is limited to one hundred copies and comes packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve. (GS)
There are some really great jams in this show with some being very lengthy. “Badge” has what sounds to be an interesting improvised drum/percussion solo followed by “Sun Is Shining” that features Marcy Levy on vocals and is a highlight in tonight’s set. “Eyesight To The Blind” runs non-stop with “Carnival” and both are great versions as well.
I believe the speed on this release runs closer to 4% too slow and really does drag down the performance. Hearing this tape at the corrected speed is a really good listen but is otherwise difficult to listen to as is. For this reason, Purple Haze will not be one of Tarantura’s more desirable titles. (WGPSEC)