Eric Clapton – Viva La Crossroads (Tarantura TCDEC-10)

Viva La Crossroads (Tarantura TCDEC-10)

Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, Laguna Hills, CA – September 23rd, 1988

Disc 1:  Crossroads, White Room, I Shot The Sheriff, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, Tearing Us Apart, After Midnight, Can’t Find My Way Home, Badge

Disc 2:  Same Old Blues, Cocaine, Layla, Money For Nothing, Sunshine Of Your Love

When the Tarantura label announced the release of Eric Clapton’s Viva La Crossroads last month, it surprised many collectors that the source would be one of Mike Millard’s, the well-known Los Angeles area taper, final tapes before he committed suicide in 1990.  The tape is somewhat clear with minimal audience interference, but is plagued with numerous channel shifts and drop outs (to list them all would really be too pedantic).  The lower end is emphasized over the upper and the bass becomes boomy in places like in “I Shot The Sheriff”, “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Badge” along with some upper end distortion that is truly annoying.  By the second half of the show the tape somewhat improves and a scorching version of “Layla” and “Money For Nothing” is very enjoyable.  The bottom line is this isn’t the best tape source and those who are expecting an Eddie quality tape will be disappointed. 

At times it becomes a chore to listen to and some of the imperfections are so abrupt it brings a discomfort to the listener.  A second tape source also exists and is used to fill some holes in the Millard tape.  This is the first time that either has been used for a commercially produced bootleg so this is the concert’s debut.  In 1988 Clapton was not touring off of any new material but for the new concept (at the time) of the retrospective CD boxed set.  April 18th saw the release of the four disc Crossroads set released to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Clapton’s recording career (dating back to 1963’s “Boom Boom”).  Compared to the set list on the August tours the previous year, only “Tearing Us Apart” (with Katie Kissoon singing Tina Turner’s part) and “Same Old Blues” were retained from the newer material with everything else coming from the sixties and seventies output.  

This is the first Eric Clapton “oldies” tour trading off of nostalgia with Mark Knopfer of The Dire Straits along for the ride.  This tour began on September 1st in Dallas and ended five week later on October 8th in Hamilton, Ontario.  It includes two guest appearances by Clapton on the two days following this with Little Feat on September 24th and with Elton John on September 25th.  Not too many releases have been produced from this tour with the notable exceptions of Viva La Slowhand on Tarantura documenting the September 7th Philadelphia soundboard, Les Trois Mousquetaires on Mid Valley (MV042/043) and the EC Is Here box set Eric Clapton: Complete Japan Tour 1988 covering the entire Japan tour on eight discs and bonus dvdr.  Once one gets past the sound quality issues this is a great concert.  Unlike the August tours the keyboards are minimized to the point of being almost completely absent. 

They lend some accompaniment to “Wonderful Tonight” but otherwise both Clapton and Knopfler dominate the proceedings.  The same sound effects are used at the beginning and the first three songs, “Crossroads”, “White Room” and “I Shot The Sheriff” before “Lay Down Sally” makes a reappearance in the set list.  Clapton introduces “Can’t Find My Way Home” as an old Blind Faith number before introducing Nathan East who handles the vocal duties.  “Same Old Blues” is shortened to thirteen minutes with Clapton, Knopfler and East trading solos (but no keyboard or drum solos). 

“Money For Nothing” is the first encore and the backing vocalists take the Sting part (“I want my MTV”) before “Sunshine Of Your Love”, which includes a short drum solo, is played as the final song of the evening.  Viva La Crossroads is strictly limited to two hundred numbered copies and comes packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve similar to The Saint Louis Blues.  Whether this is attractive or not depends upon one’s devotion to the late eighties Eric Clapton.  The sound quality could have been much better and makes it hard to recommend to the general collector.  There are not many releases from this tour and Tarantura did well by issuing this tape flaws and all. 

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