The Saint Louis Blues (Tarantura TCDEC-8)
Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO – July 25th, 1974
Disc 1: Smile, Can’t Find My Way Home, I Shot The Sheriff, You Don’t Love Me, Badge, Tell The Truth
Disc 2: Willie And The Hand Jive, Get Ready (false start), Get Ready (full version), Layla
The first leg of Eric Clapton’s first solo tour in 1974 is very well documented. Both audience and soundboard sources exist for many of the shows and earlier this year the EC Is Here label released Three Smiles which uncovered the previously unknown July 29th Birmingham, Alabama tape. Now on The Saint Louis Blues Tarantura debut yet another brand new soundboard recording from July 25th in St. Louis. It is very good and well balanced but with a dullness and compression similar to the Alabama tape. Tarantura worked hard to bring some more depth to it and the effort is well spent making this tape much more enjoyable than the others.
There is a cut in the tape between “Badge” and “Tell The Truth” with no music lost, and the tape fades out at the very end of “Layla”. The encores, if there were any, are not present and it is hard to tell if this is the complete show. Many songs that were featured like “Blues Power” and “Let It Rain” are not present. “Good evening gypsies one and all…. This is a song written by Norman Wisdom and it’s called ‘Grin'” are some of Clapton’s opening words before the first acoustic song “Smile” and “Can’t Find My Way Home”, sounding beautiful in this recording is the second. Clapton plays a few notes of “I Shot The Sheriff” before the band begin playing the song almost by accident.
“You Don’t Love Me” sounds like early Allman Brothers with Clapton and George Terry playing off of one another. Before “Tell The Truth” Yvonne Ellerman says “it’s coming” off mike before Clapton asks the audience “is there anybody here who can tune a guitar? Fuck it”. “Willie And The Hand Jive” is the Johnny Otis number played at most of the shows on this tour and is segued with “Get Ready”. There is a breakdown in that song a minute in before the band stops and start again. “Layla” lasts for twelve minutes and is the set closer. This is a good mid-tour performance where it is obvious Clapton is hitting the bottle throughout and slurring his words more as the show goes on.
Tarantura packaged this in a thick glossy cardboard gatefold mini-LP sleeve limited to only two hundred numbered copies with the cover duplicating the July 18th, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. The producers thank Mr. E-Domino for supplying the master tape and have several on-stage photos printed in the middle. There is also a picture of Patty Boyd with the caption “You Don’t Love Me” underneath. The Saint Louis Blues is a great production for a pretty good show. Since it is a brand new source it will be of interest to Clapton collectors. There are no outstanding revelations in the set list but is another piece of the puzzle of this important era. With two new soundboards surfacing this year maybe there will be more where these came from?