Life On Six Strings

Life On Six Strings

Eric Clapton - Life On Six Strings
various dates and venues - Monserrat Records - 1906-908 - quality varies

The lineups and cross-references are too numerous to list. The sound quality is varied. Most of the material has been taken from Japanese CDs that are now fairly rare. Some of the tracks are a bit hissy, but no more than the original versions were. This collection comprises little-known songs together with unique performances of some of Eric Clapton's standard repertory.

The performances are all excellent, but when aren't they?

Disc 1 begins with three performances from 1974. While "Let It Grow" was a standard that year, the version included here is sung in a Dylanesque style that E.C. was never to repeat at other shows. "Matchbox" has appeared only rarely through the years, and has been captured on tape even less often, but "Opposites", one of E.C.'s compositions from the album "There's One In Every Crowd", is performed at this Hammersmith Odeon show for the first and only time. "Burial" and "Too Lovely To Leave Alone" are both studio outtakes; the former was recorded in preparation for the album "There's One In Every Crowd" with Peter Tosh on vocals, while the three versions of the latter are rehearsals of this unknown E.C. song in preparation for his 1975 tour. Neither of these songs was ever released, or performed live in concert. "Keep On Growing" is yet another excellent performance of a rare song from the Providence show that was so prominently featured on "Crossroads 2". This version of the song features some intensive guitar duelling between George Terry and Clapton. The CD ends with a guest appearance from Freddie King that should be a part of every collection, and an incredible and unique 24-minute performance of "Blues With A Feeling" & "Stormy Monday".

Disc 1
Let It Grow Cow Palace, San Francisco 21/07/74
Matchbox Cow Palace, San Francisco 21/07/74
Burial (with Peter Tosh) Dynamic Sound Studios, Jamaica 08/74
Opposites Hammersmith Odeon 04/12/74
Too Lovely To Leave Alone #1 Criteria Studios, Miami 11/06/75
Too Lovely To Leave Alone #2 Criteria Studios, Miami 11/06/75
Too Lovely To Leave Alone #3 Criteria Studios, Miami 11/06/75
Keep On Growing Providence, Rhode Island 25/06/75
Further On Up The Road (w F. King) Dallas, Texas 15/11/76
Blues With A Feeling / Stormy Monday Shi-Kokaido 30/09/77

Disc 2 begins with Last Night from the 1978 show at Santa Monica that was also prominently featured on "Crossroads 2". While CD and vinyl recordings from parts of this show abound, this song from "Slowhand" was absent from virtually every release. Guest appearances on this CD include Muddy Waters, who joined E.C. on stage at the end of 1978 to perform "Standing Round Crying", and Gary Brooker of Procol Harum who sang his hit "Whiter Shade Of Pale" to a sorrowful guitar solo. "Watch Out For Lucy" is a very rare performance of a song originally released on "Backless", while the familiar medley of "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" & "Rambling On My Mind" is combined here with "Don't Say You Don't Love Me" in a unique performance from 1983. Certainly one of the highlights of this CD is the first-ever recording of "Same Old Blues". Taken from a January 1984 show in Milan, this version of the song predates its recording in studio for "Behind The Sun" by nearly four months. The song underwent some changes before its final release, as you will hear from the different lyrics of the first verse and the three guitar solos. The studio outtake of "Say Hello To Billy Jean" is an unreleased song intended for "Another Ticket". Forever was also never to be released or performed live and, like the outtake of "Hard Times", was intended for the "Journeyman" album. The final two songs of this volume were performed consecutively at a Brussels show in 1990. "Running On Faith" was performed regularly at E.C.'s shows from 1990 to 1992, though rarely if ever with the level of energy and enthusiasm that makes this performance so exceptional. That same energy continues into "Breaking Point", also from the "Journeyman" album, which appears here in one of its only two recorded performances.

Disc 2
Last Night Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica 11/02/78
Standing Round Crying (w Muddy Waters) Civic Hall, Guildford 07/12/78
Watch Out For Lucy Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland 02/06/79
Say Hello To Billy Jean Compass Point Studios, Nassau 06-07/80
Whiter Shade Of Pale (w Gary Brooker) Budokan, Tokya 07/12/81
Don't say You Love Don't Love Me / Have You Ever Loved A Woman  Milwaukee Festival, Milwaukee 10/07/83
Rambling On My Mind Milwaukee Festival, Milwaukee 10/07/83
Same Old Blues Teatrotenda, Milan 24/01/84
Forever Various Studios in New York 03-04/89
Hard Times Various Studios in New York 03-04/89
Running On Faith Forest National Brussels, Belguim 22/02/90
Breaking Point Forest National Brussels, Belguim 22/02/90

The first song of Disc 3 does not suffer from underexposure! What makes this performance of "Wonderful Tonight" so special is the crowd, which sings the song with tremendous enthusiasm while E.C. accompanies, and softly sings the occasional word. There are several guest appearances on this CD, beginning with an all-star performance of "Sweet Home Chicago". Sadly, this performance became historic as it was Stevie Ray Vaughan's final appearance before his death later that same evening. Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan have appeared together on stage only rarely in their careers that have spanned more than thirty years. Unfortunately, a planned duet of Dylan's song "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" at the Dylan Tribute on October 16, 1992 never materialized. Fortunately rehearsals of this song held a few days before the tribute show, with Dylan and Clapton playing and singing together, were recorded and are included here. E.C. has performed several times with The Band, and members of the group since the early days when he confessed to having an interest in joining the group. Included here is a performance of "The Weight" from the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. The final guest appearance is also the final track on this CD. Taken from a show with Dr. John in May of 1996, "St. James Infirmary" has been released on other CDs in a damaged form. Here the song is included in its entirety, without any glitches, and in better sound quality than the widely-circulated version. The remaining three songs on this CD are taken from the all-blues shows of 1994 and 1995. The first is a most unique appearance of the song "Driftin'" from Montreal, Canada, where it was an encore at the first show of the tour. What makes this performance exceptional is that it is solo and acoustic, representing the only time this song has been performed this way at any of E.C.'s shows. The next song, "Black Cat Bone", is equally unique and receives its one-time performance at Irving Plaza at the end of the 1994 North American tour. "Double Trouble", a standard part of E.C.'s repertory between 1976 and 1986, was absent from his shows for nine years before it returned at a Royal Albert Hall show in 1995. The song has been performed a few times since, most notably as part of the 1995 Fall tour in Japan. The version included here is from a less-frequently heard performance in April of 1995 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Disc 3
Wonderful Tonight Statenhal, The Hague, Holland 24/02/90
Sweet Home Chicago Alpine Valley Music Theatre 26/08/90
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry #1 (w Bob Dylan) Long Island, New York 10/92
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry #2 (w Bob Dylan) Long Island, New York 10/92
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry #3 (w Bob Dylan) Long Island, New York 10/92
The Weight (w The Band) Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame, New York 01/94
Driftin' (solo acoustic) Montreal Forum, Montreal 03/10/94
Black Cat Bone Irving Plaza, New York 28/11/94
Double Trouble Festhall, Frankfurt, Germany 24/04/95
St. James Infirmary (w Dr. John) Roseland, Ballroom, New York 09/05/96