Unknown Land Of The South: 1975 Australian Tour (Tarantura TCED-45, 46)
Despite extensive touring in his previous and reaching world wide success in the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and as a solo artists, it took twelve years from the start of his career for Eric Clapton to finally play live in Australia.
Beginning with warm up shows in Hawaii and New Zealand, he played fifteen shows over a two week period in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and six shows in the capital Sydney with support from popular Australian soul singer Renée Geyer. He revealed a new paradigm for the shows which, in contrast to the preceding year, omits the opening acoustic numbers and focus solely upon the electric.
There’s One In Every Crowd, his follow up to the popular 461 Ocean Boulevard, was released the previous month and the new songs were slowly introduced into the set list. Besides the great performances, the only incident of note is when Clapton became ill due to food poisoning in the April 20th show, ending it after only seventy-five minutes.
A free concert on April 22nd was held as a make up and Clapton shaved his beard off. Two rough but very enjoyable soundboards circulate from this tour and make up Unknown Land Of The South on Tarantura.
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, Australia – April 17th, 1975
Disc 1 (62:29): Introduction, Let It Grow, Tell The Truth, Better Make It Through Today, Badge, I Shot The Sheriff, Teach Me To Be Your Woman, Steady Rollin’ Man, Key To The Highway
Disc 2 (58:49): Can’t Find My Way Home, Blues Power intro, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Blues Power, Driftin’ Blues, Crossroads, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Driftin’ Blues, Layla, Opposites, Let It Rain, Little Wing
The first two discs contain the soundboard recording for the first show in Sydney (and fifth in Australia), on April 17th. This has previously been attributed to April 20th but Tarantura present the correct date. It was pressed previously on Sydney Boogie (Bell Bottom BB026/27) which incorrectly lists the show as being at the Sydney Opera House, and is missing the last two tracks.
Parts of this show were included on Unsteady Rollin’ Man from Vintage Rare Masters, along with six tracks from Brisbane, and can be found complete on the no label CDR title Sydney Complete. It is presented complete on Laid Back In Down Under (Paddington PADD 040/041/042/043) but runs at the wrong speed. The Tarantura sounds very clear and runs at the right pitch. There is a tape cut and wobble twenty-six seconds into “Key To The Highway” after which the sound quality improves slightly.
The tape begins with a nineteen second tuning before the relatively mellow “Let It Grow.” There is a small cut omitting part of Clapton’s greeting but he can be heard joking about the press reports concerning his drunken performances the previous year, saying “yeah I’m supposed to be staggering around at this point. But I can’t.” The first new song of the set is “Better Make It Through Today.” “Badge” slows down in the middle before segueing into a merry and chugging version of “I Shot The Sheriff.”
Clapton takes “a breather” before introducing Marcy Levy for “Teach Me To Be Your Woman.” She gives sincere and passionate performance of the song which even Clapton acknowledges by saying “What about that! What about that!” Yvonne Elliman has her spot for “Can’t Find My Way Home.” The bulk of the second half of the show is occupied with creative medleys.
They start “Blues Power” which drifts into the melody of “All I Have To Do Is Dream” before “Blues Power” resumes and “Driftin’ Blues” contains an interesting pure blues arrangement of “Crossroads” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” before returning to “Driftin’ Blues” again. The set ends with “Layla” and “Opposites,” the closing song from the new album, being played in lieu of the coda. “Opposites” contains a few snippets of “Auld Lang Syne.” The encores are a wah-wah laden version of “Let It Rain” and “Little Wing.”
Festival Hall, Brisbane, Australia – April 23rd, 1975
Disc 3 (51:44): Introduction, Badge, Milk Cow Calf Blues, When You’ve Got A Good Friend, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Steady Rollin’ Man, two ladies introduction, Can’t Find My Way Home, Teach Me To Be Your Woman
Disc 4 (62:38): interval, Let It Rain, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, I Shot The Sheriff, Layla, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Little Wing, Little Queenie
Clapton played in the Festival Hall in Brisbane on April 14th, then traveled to Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney before returning to Brisbane for two more shows on April 23rd and April 24th. The tape is much more lively than Sydney with more presence of music and with the atmosphere of a live show. There is a small cut at 9:56 in “Let It Rain” and “Little Queenie” fades at the end but is otherwise complete. This soundboard circulated before attributed to April 14th but is labeled on Tarantura as April 23rd.
It was issued before on Brisbane Blues (Bell Bottom – BB 031/032) missing the last four tracks (“Layla” to “Little Queenie.”) Milk Cow Blues (Unbelievable Music UM 008/009) has nine songs from this show and Nuthin’ But The Blues (Tuff Bites – TB.95.1021) has “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” and “Milk Cow Blues” and Unsteady Rollin’ Man (Vintage Rare Masters VRM~010~011) is a compilation of the two Australian soundboards. Paddington released the entire soundboard recording on Laid Back In Down Under (PADD 040/041/042/043). According to WGPSEC Unknown Land Of The South is an improvement over the Paddington.
There is a short introduction before starting off the show with a standard version of “Badge” which is one of the few originals played in the opening half of the show. A series of covers follows beginning with a very rare live arrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Milk Cow Calf Blues.”
Clapton would record this almost thirty years later on 2004’s Mr. Johnson And Me but this is the only live version from the seventies I could find. They continue the song with references to Johnson’s “When You’ve Got A Friend” and his own “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” in an undifferentiated medley.
The interval at the beginning of disc two is only seven seconds of the band tuning before beginning a half hearted version of “Let It Rain.” The Laid Back Down Under review mentions “interesting chord variations at the beginning” which in Brisbane sound more like the band stumbling into the song rather than creative genius.
“I Shot The Sheriff” does sound nice with Clapton and Terry engaging in a rather delicate duel. “Layla” sounds out of tune in parts and segues into “All I Have To Do Is Dream” with Elliman providing vocals. “Little Wing” plods along at fifteen minutes long and the final song of the tape is Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie.” Unknown Land To The South is undoubtedly a big improvement over all other release of the Australia soundboards and is another solid Tarantura Eric Clapton release.