Easy Sway (Tarantura TCDSCEC – 1 – 1,2)
Elysee Montmartre, Paris, France. Thursday 31st October 1996
Disk One : Hard To Make A Stand / Everyday Is A Winding Road / Can’t Cry Anymore / Leaving Las Vegas / If It Makes You Happy / Run Baby Run / A Change Would Do You Good / Redemption Day ( 46:05 )
Disk Two ; Love Is A Good Thing / Solidarity / All I Wanna Do / Home * / Ordinary Morning * / Sway * / band introduction / Superstar * ( Featuring Eric Clapton ) ( 42:50 )
The Tarantura labels first Sheryl Crow release comes from Sheryl’s break through period. Following the release of her self titled second album it would appear that the world took her to it’s heart and her blend of rock, pop, hip – hop, country and folk was favour of the month. Her knowing and sparky lyrics were perfectly suited to rock radio.
This tape catches Sheryl touring in promotion of that second album, a short, 9 show tour that took her through most of the cooler ( in temperature ) parts of Europe including France, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK, the Netherlands show seeing a soundboard release on Midnight Beats “Sunday Night At The Paradiso” ( MB CD 090 / 91. )
The recording itself is seemingly close to the speakers with a little distortion noticeable through the bass lines – something that can be tempered but the fuzz does seem to run through the recording unfortunately.
The Elysee Montmartre is an smallish venue in the centre of Paris ( fitting around 1,200 gig goers ) which also lends the recording a more intimate feel – we were late enough in the day for Sheryl’s fame to have grown but the sound isn’t audibly busy apart from a little chatter surrounding the taper. As for other technical details the tape used ( The TDK CDing 1 – pictured on the inside of the digipack ) is a midrange tape utilised by TDK for CD quality recordings while CDRs were still unaffordable to most.
The gig begins with pretty much straight forward renditions of Sheryl’s tracks but as the set continues the band let loose a little from the blueprints and add a little extra to the songs with a little freewheeling guitar.
Tonight’s show begins with “Hard To Make A Stand” from the album. It would eventually become a single in Europe but was banned in America for it’s risque topics. Following this Sheryl greats the crowd with a few choice French greetings before admitting that she probably didn’t get too far in French class at school so then introduces the album’s second single ( “So, this is new .. ” ) “Everyday Is A Winding Road” which once again begins sounding close to the original recording before the guitars are broken out ( Sheryl counts up to the solo in French though making amends for not knowing those formalities. ) The song ends with a filtered ‘wah wah’ solo over the chugging drive of the rest of the guitars.
“Can’t Cry Anymore”, Crows 4th single from her first album is one the French are already au fait with and clap along with the opening chords for around 30 seconds before they all lose interest and let the band carry on doing it alone.
The brooding “Leaving Las Vegas” follows allowing Crow to slip in to a mellow, semi-acoustic mood – this is one of the better documented tracks on the tape as there’s less of a brittle sound on the bass due to the electrics being tuned down.
“If It Makes You Happy” is introduced as being “Why We’re Here .. “, while “Run Baby Run” ( A track that really earns it’s ticket price by featuring a spectacular few guitar solos ) is preceded by a few good natured heckles from the crowd, obviously embarrassing Crow who doesn’t reply.
The only song I didn’t recognise on disk one is the rather morose “Redemption Day”, another acoustic track that keeps the noise down but also brings down the mood a little.
The second disk begins with the Hendrixish “Love Is A Good Thing”, a spacey, angry track with a great deal of improvised guitar playing towards the coda. This leads almost instantly in to a fast, disco paced “Solidarity” which is neatly sandwiched between a familiar-but-different rendition of Sheryl’s most familiar song “All I Wanna Do” – a track that despite yourself, you won’t be able to not sing along to nearly every word.
The audience, already psyched up after the hit song are then introduced to a friend of Crow’s, Eric Clapton, who was strongly rumoured to be having an affair with Sheryl at the time.
He brings his own brand of guitar playing to “Home” and “Ordinary Morning” and gels well with the rest of the players though it’s obvious that when Eric joins the stage who’s guitar is going to be louder in the mix .. His solo in “Home” is lent a large round of applause while “Ordinary Morning” gives Clapton a lot more space to add his own ‘reply’ licks to this grandiose, breakdown track.
Nearly every band play tribute on stage to someone they admire and this tours standard cover was the Rolling Stones “Sway” from ‘Sticky Fingers’. Rarely played live by the Stones themselves apart from the Bigger Band tour ten years later. Introduced as “Something we didn’t write .. ” the crowd are respectfully quiet throughout this rendition, happy to see the band they came to watch, play with one of the worlds best guitarists on one of the greatest band’s tracks. Clapton does a great job taking on Mick Taylors slide part but doesn’t play it slide, instead just peeling off what ever he cares to play.
The song drops to a natural conclusion then the band begin to jam through the introductions leading in to “Superstar”. The track is a typical Crow song but, to my ears, they could have, maybe should have ended with “Ordinary Morning”. Regardless, the track covers the bases that it needs to particularly with it’s extended ‘a-players-play-together’ styled ending.
The show is a solid reminder or even introduction to Sheryl Crow the performer – even if you’ve never been a fan specifically then you’ve certainly heard a good proportion of the songs played here ( Largely due to her early albums being heavily mined while the music business was still in rude health. )
The digipack bi-fold packaging is the usual stiff card, Tarantura quality featuring various press photos of Sheryl and band along with one with Clapton and one that is Eric on his own. The Elysee theatre is also featured as is a photo of the master tape itself and it’s hand written cover. All very impressive apart from the songs to Sheryl’s set without Eric are rendered in a very, very dark grey on black leaving the tracks almost impossible to read.
Another surprising release from this leader of silver bootlegs – It takes a brave label to feature a non-renownd bootleg artist but as it features a previously unacknowledged Clapton set and a glut of songs you forgot you know it’s certainly worth investigating.