One posting on the internet says that in this show, Eric Clapton was very “loose” (that is, drunk), especially on vocals. Whether he was “loose” or drunk, he was in a fairly mellow mood, dragging out the gospel-ish Let It Grow. But he was not so out-of-it that he couldn’t play – Let It Rain has a nice jam at the end (after which Clapton says to the crowd, “don’t mind if I have a drink”) and he gets into the groove on Key To The Highway.
But then Clapton must have a lot on his mind to contend with. After his drug-addled days, his record company might be thinking that Clapton wouldn’t last the distance – hence they taped practically every show on this tour and eventually released the rather brief EC Was Here. Then he had Yvonne Elliman as backing vocalist. Elliman was married to Bill Oakes, the president of RSO Records; Oakes introduced her to Clapton, who “invited” Elliman to sing backup vocals on I Shot The Sheriff. “Invited” is probably a too-polite term. On his own Clapton was probably still thinking of Patti Harrison (hence the recurrence of Badge, a song written with George Harrison). But he seemed to have gritted his teeth somewhat and carried on – otherwise why would he open his shows on the 1974 tour with Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, with the happy-sad lyric, “Smile though your heart is aching”?
While Willie And The Hand Jive has existed with a faster tempo, here, it sort of shares the same terrain as the reggae-inflected I Shot The Sheriff (which is sorely missed). Though many might disagree, this was not a show of guitar artistry or pyrotechnics – though there was some outstanding playing on Have You Ever Loved A Woman. The key word is groove, as this excellent soundboard recording makes clear. Take Badge for instance. While the song is a Cream/Clapton classic, he lets the intro run on and on (because it grooves) and one keeps expecting Carlos Santana to jump in!
As a treat, Freddie King appears on Have You Ever Loved A Woman and Little Queenie.
These tracks originally appeared in the Undercover Box Set (Mid Valley Records). Thanks to ECMusicMan for sharing them.
Recorded live at Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, July 7, 1974
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Yvonne Elliman (vocals)
Carl Radle (bass)
George Terry (guitar)
Jamie Oldaker (drums)
Dick Sims (keyboards)
Freddie King (guitar, vocals on 10. + 11.)
01. Smile (Clapton) 1.40
02. Let It Grow (Clapton) 7.35
03. Let It Rain (D. Bramlett/B. Bramlett/Clapton) 10.12
04. Key To The Highway ( Segar/Broonzy) 5.43
05. Willie And The Hand Jive (Otis) 4.56
06. Get Ready (Clapton/Elliman) 7.08
07. Presence Of The Lord (Clapton) 2.03
08. Badge (Clapton/Harrison) 3.58
09. Tell The Truth (Clapton/Whitlock) 8.07
10. Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Myles) 15.18
11. Little Queenie (Berry) 7.14