Tour 75 (Tarantura TCDEC-30, 31)
Eric Clapton had a very strange year in 1975. His big comeback solo tour the previous year had its highs and lows, but in general was well received. But the following year he went into the studio to record the oddball LP There’s One In Every Crowd. With a strange assortment of gospel-reggae covers and half baked blues tunes, its chart life didn’t last very long and was considered a disappointment after the magnificent 461 Ocean Boulevard.
After the album was issued in March, he embarked on a tour with extended dates in Australia and the US with several guest appearances with The Rolling Stones and Santana and again much of the new album was ignored (“Little Rachel” proved to have the most mileage) and in August the live LP E.C. Was Here was released. The timing of the live album, and its focus upon older material gives the impression management wanted to win back the fans and press who dismissed the studio album.
He ended the year with seven dates in Japan which are considered, rather ironically, support for E.C. Is Here. Tarantura’s Tour 75 boxset collects together brand new tape sources for the final two dates of in Japan. In general they are vast improvements over the other tapes that have circulated for these dates. They run at the correct speed and have natural sound quality to them emphasizing the engaging nature of the music emanating from the stage.
The two shows are packaged in cardboard sleeves with relevant information printed on the back and both are housed in a cardboard box fitting over the two sleeves. The bonus disc is also included within and the box set is limited to two hundred numbered copies. A general evaluation of this set is that it is very good and present some of the best sounding documents from Clapton’s tour of Japan.
“The Guitar Man Was Here”
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – November 1st, 1975
Disc 1: Introduction, Layla, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Key To The Highway, Badge, Can’t Find My Way Home, Further On Up The Road, I Shot The Sheriff
Disc 2: Interval, Sun Is Shining, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Tell The Truth, Eyesight To The Blind, Drum Solo, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
The November 1st concert comes from an uncirculated Mr. Peach tape. The old tape source is distant and the vocal in particular are almost inaudible. It was released on Laid Back Again In Japan (Reel Master009/010).
Slowhand Was Here Tour 1975 (ECJP-7501/2) is another silver released in 1995 but is missing “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” and augmented with bonus tracks from 1974. Got The Power (Slunky 03 A/B/C/D/E/F) is a six disc set with the October 23rd Osaka and October 24th Kyoto show along with November 1st, and God Is Back (Exhibition ECD7511) also features this show.
“Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and “Eyesight To The Blind” are included on 1975 Japan Tour Retrospective (Front Page FP-0040001/2/3) and the latest release is the horrible sounding Badge (Destroyer 04001-2).
The tape begins with the mc introducing the band and there is general hysteria as they play the first notes of “Layla,” distorting the music. Once the audience calms down the music clears up and this turns into a very good recording. The new Mr. Peach recording emphasizes the bottom end with a slightly rumbling bass, but it does not detract from the clarity of the tape. There is a cut after “Badge,” after “I Shot The Sheriff,” and a small cut after the final song of the main set “Tell The Truth.”
Unlike 1974 when the show began with several mellow acoustic numbers, the concerts in 1975 don’t have any acoustic numbers and get off to a flying start with “Layla.” Almost nine minutes in length, these versions skip the piano based coda and extend the guitar solo into a duet between Clapton and Terry.
Yvonne Elliman sings “Can’t Find My Way Home” in which the keyboards dominate the arrangement. “This one is sort of a blues shuffle. It’s the way we get around things” he says before “Further On Up The Road.” Afterwards many in the audience beg for “I Shot The Sheriff” and Clapton complies. Whether or not it is played by direct request is debatable, but it certainly sounds it.
Marcy Levy has her spot afterwards and most of the releases claim she sings “Teach Me To Be Your Woman.” The song she sings is called “The Sun Is Shining.” “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” is stretched out to more than sixteen agonizing minutes in which Clapton’s solo sounds as if the whole weight of the world is on his shoulders and the set ends with a version of “Tell The Truth” that pushes seventeen minutes, recalling the versions played in the waning days of Derek And The Dominoes. The encores begin with the brilliant track “Eyesight To The Blind” which segues into a seven minute drum solo which in turn segues into “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?”
The bonus disc fits sequentially between the two sets. Only eight and a half minutes long, it has the ending of the set by the supporting band The Evening Band, a local Tokyo band. The tape cuts in while they are playing the Eric Clapton version of the Johnny Otis song “Willie And The Hand Jive.”
The singer introduces the musicians in Japanese before playing “Evening Blues.” This is a five minute song in orthodox Chicago blues style but with the lyrics sung in Japanese. The singer does sing “bye, baby, bye” by the end. The mc comes on the stage to lay down the ground rules of the Clapton show before the disc ends.
“The Blues Man Was Here”
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – November 2nd, 1975
Bonus disc, support act: Willie And The Hand Jive, introduction, Evening Blues
Disc 1: Supporting act end / announcement, introduction, Layla, I Shot The Sheriff, Little Rachel, Can’t Find My Way Home, Blues Power, Stormy Monday
Disc 2: interval, The Sun Is Shining, Little Wing, Badge, drum solo, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?, Further On Up The Road
The November 2nd show is a previously uncirculated Mr. Song Older Brother tape. An older mediocre sounding tape was used for 1975 Japan Tour Final (Masterport 030) and also lent “Stormy Monday” to 1975 Japan Tour Retrospective (Front Page FP-0040001/2/3). A second, fair to good tape was found several years ago and released on Lord Have Mercy (Tricone-007/008). This new tape source is a dramatic improvement compared to the others.
The taper was closer to the stage and captured a dynamic performance perfectly. This tape might be the best to surface from these dates. The older source is used to fill several gaps in the new tape: between :26 to 1:30 in “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and from 5:33 to 6:45 and from 9:09 to 10:29 in the drum solo.
The set begins with the same two songs as the night before, “Layla” and “I Shot The Sheriff.” “Little Rachel” with the bouncy beat is the only song from the latest studio album played in Tokyo. Elliman is introduced for “Can’t Find My Way Home” which is musically closer to the original Blind Faith rendition. At about nine minutes into “Blues Power” they slip into a gospel revival tent meeting and the song then segues into “Stormy Monday.”
Levy dedicates “The Sun Is Shining” to Tokyo and everybody in the band as “a little goodbye.” The set closer is “Badge” followed by a ten minute drum solo which in turn runs into a long version of “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” A nine minute version of “Further On Up The Road” with delicate playing by Clapton is the encore.
Overall these are two excellent shows that, in these great new recordings, are most enjoyable and are worth having.