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1980s

Eric embarked on a short UK tour in May 1980 and toured Scandinavia in September. No recordings from these concerts have ever been issued by bootleg labels, although some of the shows circulate in the trading community. Eric also spent time in the studio recording his next album. An extensive tour was planned for 1981 in support of Another Ticket. After dates in Ireland, the band moved onto America in March. The tour ended after a few shows due to Eric’s hospitalization for near-fatal stomach ulcers. Eric resurfaced in September when he participated in the Amnesty International benefit concerts in London. 1981 ended with short tours of Scandinavia and Japan.  The following year, Eric toured America in June. Although a limited amount of shows circulate in the trading community, none have ever been issued by a bootleg label for the 1981 and 1982 tours.

Eric returned to the road in earnest in 1983 to support Money and Cigarettes. The tour encompassed most of the year and it has been well-documented by collectors. Eric also took part in a series of all-star "ARMS" concerts to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research in England and America. In 1984, Eric toured Europe and the Mid East in January then signed on as the guitarist with Roger Waters’ Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking Tour for the summer. At the end of the year, Eric and his band headed south of the equator and toured Australia.

The “Golden Age of Bootlegs” dawned in 1985. For the next decade, gorgeous sounding and beautifully packaged discs would be the rule, rather than the exception for many recording artists. Often, they would come with detailed liner notes. That same year, Eric and his band was on the road to support Behind The Sun. With his appearance at Live Aid in July, Eric’s career reached even greater heights. A portion of 1986 was dedicated to recording a new album and concert dates were few. Eric played seven shows in Europe and England in the summer followed by four club dates in America in the late Fall. The latter gigs served as a warm-up for his massive 1987 world tour.

Eric toured extensively in 1987 in support of August with dates in England, America, Australia and Japan. The year would mark the first of his annual residencies at London’s Royal Albert Hall. They would continue for the next decade. The Albert shows, along with scattered US dates, were recorded for a official live album that was later shelved. The tour was well-documented by archivists and numerous soundboard recordings have become available. The following year, Eric celebrated his 25th Anniversary in the recording industry. He played dates at the Royal Albert Hall early in 1988, toured a few US cities and ended the year with a short tour of Japan. For the Far East outting, he was accompanied by Mark Knopfler and Elton John. In the succeeding years, very few quality recordings have surfaced for 1988.

Eric started 1989 off with his third residency at the Royal Albert Hall. He spent the spring in New York City recording Journeyman. In the summer, the mammoth Journeyman Tour started in Europe, followed by dates in Africa and Israel. In October, he would guest at several Rolling Stones Concerts in America.

The essential Eric Clapton bootleg recordings from the 1980s are:

Turn Up Down (EC is Here - DJ Copy / SB6)
Turn Up Down (MidValley 056 / SB6)

The Mid Valley version has slightly better sound quality, but its hard to tell the difference between the discs on the average home sound system. These tracks were recorded in March / April 1980 at Surrey Sound Studios. Turn Up Down is a complete copy of the album that Eric submitted to his record company that year. The company rejected it and he was forced back into the studio. The follow-up sessions resulted in his album, Another Ticket. With Turn Up Down, one can hear how tracks like “Rita Mae”, “Catch Me If You Can” and others evolved.

Japan Tour ‘81 (EC Rarities / 3)
Recorded on 7 December 1981 it features “After Midnight” in double time and very good versions of “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Double Trouble”. Gary Brooker (ex-Procul Harum) takes a solo with an outstanding vocal on “Whiter Shade Of Pale”. Although a limited number of shows circulate in the trading community, only one has been issued by a bootleg label. Based on that alone, it is included here.

Slowhand Masterfile Part 9 / National Stadium Dublin (Antrabata / SB6)
This is a complete show, recorded on 14 April 1983, that includes the rarely performed “Ain’t Going Down” and “The Shape You’re In” — plus some 80s Clapton standards like “Tulsa Time”, “Lay Down Sally”, and “Blues Power.”

Back From The Edge (Silver Rarities / SB6)
No One Else (Bell Bottom / SB6)
Wonderful Tonight/On Stage (The Swingin’ Pig / SB6 - Discs 3 and 4).

This complete show was recorded at the Stadhalle in Bremen, Germany on 20 April 1983. It includes all the standard songs of that time — plus “Worried Life Blues”, “Double Trouble”, and “Ramblin’ On My Mind.” See the Box Sets section for details about the Wonderful Tonight release.

Eric Clapton Page & Collins (EC is Here / 4+)
Guildford 1983 (Heartbreakers / 4)
This was Eric’s “hometown show” on 23 May at the Guildford Civic Hall. The setlist was standard for the tour, but the band kicks it up a notch in the second half, especially during the blues medley. The encore starts with “Further On Up The Road” and “Cocaine” featuring Phil Collins and Jimmy Page. They are then joined by Chas & Dave and Paul Brady. The night concludes with “Roll Over Beethoven,” “You Win Again,” “Matchbox” and “Goodnight Irene.”

ARMS Benefit (Posh / SB6)
The ARMS Concert / Live in Cow Palace SF (Heart Breakers / SB4)

Take your pick of one of the superstar ARMS shows that featured Clapton, Beck, Page, Bill Wyman, Joe Cocker, and a bunch of others. ARMS Benefit on Posh was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on 20 September 1983. It is sourced from the officially released video and is missing a handful of non-Clapton tracks — but has a short interview with Clapton on disc one. The ARMS Concert on Heartbreakers was recorded in San Francisco on 2 December 1983 and features Yardbirds Alumni, Clapton, Beck, and Page on “Stairway to Heaven” AND “Layla”. Note that the set lists between the two are different. If you’re into sound quality, ARMS Benefit from the Albert Hall would be the preferred choice.

Milwaukee Time (Silver Rarities / SB6)
Cocaine & Alcoholic (Imperial / SB6)

This show was recorded on 10 July 1983 during Clapton’s summer shed tour. It includes the rare “Blow Wind Blow” and a marvelous medley consisting of “Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me”, “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”, and Ramblin’ On My Mind”.

Red Wine (EC is Here / 4)
Recorded in Zurich on 20 January, the gig featured rarely performed numbers like “The Sky Is Crying”, “Rita Mae,” “Blow Wind Blow.” The highlight is a rollicking extended jam of “Standing Around Crying / Have You Ever Loved A Woman / Ramblin’.”

Slowhand Down Under (Killing Floor / 4+)
A typical mid-80s show featuring the hits and some rarely performed numbers like “Everybody Oughta Make A Change,” “Motherless Children”, “Tangled In Love,” and “You Don’t Know Like I Know.” The show sometimes plods along, but there are moments of brilliance. The one of the few recordings to surface from this tour which counts towards its inclusion.

Wembley Arena (Tube / SB5)
This is a complete performance recorded on 3 March 1985. Eric’s playing has more bite than the 1984 Australian tour. It features the rarely performed “Everybody Oughta Make A Change” — plus Dan Akroyd (of Blues Brothers and US Television’s Saturday Night Live) guests on the encore.

Chicago No Bad Blues (Tarantura / SB6)
A truly excellent soundboard recorded during the American Tour on 5 July 1985 and a very good concert. It features gems like “Motherless Children”, “White Room”, “Badge / Let It Rain” and “Forever Man”.

Talk To The Boss (Bell Bottom / SB6)
Wonderful Tonight / On Stage (The Swingin’ Pig / SB6 / Discs 5 and 6)

Portions of this show, which was recorded in Richmond, Virginia on 22 April 1985, were broadcast on American Radio. One of the best live versions of “Same Old Blues” along with a terrific “Further On Up The Road” (which has a fun intro by Duck Dunn). See the Box Sets section for details about the Wonderful Tonight release.

Civic Hall Guildford (EC is Here / 4+)
Eric’s UK tour had taken place in the Spring. This one-off on 20 October at Guildford Civic Hall was the night before Eric was a guest at the filming of Carl Perkins & Friends: A Rockabilly Session. This gig also served as a warm-up for Eric’s European tour which started on 23 October. Vocals are clear and the guitar is upfront, although the sound is a bit boomy. This release is a distinct improvement over previous releases of this show. Mid-80s takes on “Tulsa Time,” “Same Old Blues,” “Tangled In Love,” “White Room,” and “Double Trouble.” “Knock on Wood” is not listed on the packaging. Phil Collins sits behind the drum kit on the last 5 tracks. Carl Perkins joins in on the final four: “Matchbox,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Goodnight Irene,” and “Mean Woman Blues.”

Get Plugged In! (MidValley / SB6)
Montreaux 1986 (The Swingin’ Pig / SB6)

This three-CD set was recorded on 9 and 10 July 1986 in Montreaux, Switzerland during the city’s legendary jazz festival. The first two discs are Eric’s entire set with his new four-piece line-up featuring Phil Collins, Nathan East, and Greg Phillinganes. There is an excellent version of “Cocaine”. Portions of this show were aired on French and Swiss radio, but these discs were sourced from the master tape. The third disc features Otis Rush’s set with a guest appearance by Eric. Note: Although other titles with same sound quality have been issued, they are all incomplete.

Ringtrick (MidValley / SB6)
EC at NEC (EC Is Here / SB6)
Slowhand Masterfile Part 13 / Birmingham NEC (Antrabata / SB5)

These three releases, recorded on 15 July 1986, are complete and contain material not included on the officially released video and DVD, Eric Clapton & Friends, which clocks in at 60-minutes. These titles are not sourced from the video or released singles, but a different soundboard master. EC at NEC and Ringtrick are of slightly better quality. Unissued tracks include, “I Shot The Sheriff”, “Same Old Blues”, “Cocaine”, and “Further On Up The Road” — plus Phil Collins on drums.

Blood Brother (Tarantura / SB6)
At The Ritz / Breeze of August (Craze Music / SB6)

This 23 November 1986 show, from The Ritz in New York City, was recording during 4 date US club tour. Eric debuts his new four-piece line-up with Nathan East, Greg Phillinganes, and Steve Ferrone. Keith Richards guests on “Cocaine” and “Layla”. This is one of the few releases with “It’s In The Way That You Use It”. Eric and band are laid back and full of fun.

Note: There are several other boots from this show available that are extremely poor audience recordings.

On Tour 87 Parts 1 & 2 (Silver Rarities / SB5)
This complete show, with guests Phil Collins and Mark Knopfler, features great versions of “White Room” and “I Shot The Sheriff”. This show was recorded on 12 January 1987.

Note: 3 Nights (Zigzag Records / SB6) features all the performances from the inaugural RAH run, but it suffers from a heavy hand on the mixing deck and there is some sound distortion. The set list was the same each night. Some collectors have noted it may not be worthy of the SB6 rating. Phil Collins did not appear on 10 January and Steve Ferrone took the seat behind the drums.

Same Old Blues (Scorpion / SB6) or MSG 1987 (Imperial / SB6)
This fantastic show was recorded on 27 April 1987 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. It includes a stunning “Holy Mother” — plus “Miss You”, “Tearing Us Apart”, and the rest of the late-1980s standards. Robert Cray joins the band for the encore. Some feel that this was the best show from the tour… it was one of “those” nights. This show was also recorded for the live album that was cancelled.

Ronnie Scotts 87 (Gold Standard / SB5)
Although the voices are not always audible, this double CD documents a rare London club appearance by Eric with Buddy Guy on 6 October 1987. In an interview for the South Bank Show a few days prior to this event, Eric said that when he is around Buddy Guy, “something happens, some strange chemical reaction.” This disc is perfect evidence of that. It has a fantastic version of “Worried Life Blues” —but the real gem is a down-and-dirty version of “Wanna Make Love To You”.

Black Magic Woman (EC Is Here - DJ Copy / 4+)
Over the years, Eric has played at a variety of small charity gigs with a pickup band of friends in front of a few lucky people. Not only do these gigs include his hits, they often feature rock and roll standards and obscure blues songs. On these occasions, Eric does not always step up to the mic for all the songs. Performances are often unpolished as it is simply a pickup band of friends getting together to jam for a good cause. On 27 March 1987, Eric played the clubhouse at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club. A lovely audience recording, the fun the entire band is having comes through the recording. Includes “Route 66”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Alberta”, “Hi Heel Sneakers”. Plus songs from Eric’s catalog like “Tulsa Time,” and “Behind The Mask.” The two CDs were packaged in a deluxe box with a bonus video of Eric’s episode of The Southbank Show.

Vivala Slowhand (Tarantura / SB6)
This disc was recorded during the American tour on 7 September in Philadelphia. Mark Knopfler was on second guitar for this tour. Features the standard mid-80s set list with “Motherless Children” tossed in as a nod to the back catalogue.

Les Trois Mousquetaires (MidValley / SB5)
In 1999, a COMPLETE recording with improved sound quality finally surfaced from Clapton’s 25th Anniversary Tour of Japan with Elton John and Mark Knopfler. Previously, fans made due with CDs of inferior quality such as A Wednesday Night At The Tokyo Dome (Great Live Records 1992). Included on the Mousquetaires release are late 80s takes of “Can’t Find My Way Home” “After Midnight”, “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Crossroads”. Elton takes a turn with some of his hits including “Candle In The Wind”, “Daniel” and “I’m Still Standing”. Knopfler tears it up on “Solid Rock” and “Money For Nothing.”

Honorable Mention:
Eric Clapton: Complete Japan Tour 1988 (EC is Here / 5)
For completists, all four shows were released by EC is Here in 2004. The set list was static, but the shows were consistenly good. Sting joins the band on 4 November at Tokyo’s Budokan. Also comes with a bonus DVD: an unedited MTV interview with Eric.

Beetle Clasher (Tarantura / SB6) - Preferred
The Twelfth Night (Silver Rarities / SB5)
Beetle Clasher is the complete show from 3 February 1989, Twelfth Night is missing Mark Knopfler’s solo number, “Solid Rock”. Despite the different sound ratings, the sound quality between the two discs is fairly close and hard to detect on the average home stereo system. This concert featured the rarely performed “Behind The Mask.” There’s great interplay between Eric and Knopfler on “Lay Down Sally”, “Can’t Find My Way Home”, and “I Shot The Sheriff”.

Roomful Of Blues (Whatever – WER06-07 / SB6)
Roomful Of Blues (Whatever - WER13-14 / SB6)

Eric has historically played excellent shows in The Netherlands. This 6 July 1989 show at Den Hague is no exception. A stunning soundboard, the show starts with a jaw-dropping version of “Crossroads” and segues into a wah-wah fueled “White Room”. Great versions of “I Shot The Sheriff”, “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Layla”. Includes the rarely performed “After Midnight”, “Wanna Make Love To You” and “Forever Man.” The crowd sings along on “Wonderful Tonight” and Eric tells them “you were wonderful” and comments “fantastic”. In response, the band kicks it up another notch. The only difference between the two releases is the bonus tracks. The initial release (WER06-07) features “Key To The Highway” from 7 July 1974. The subsequent release includes the officially released live version of “No Alibis” and “I Shot The Sheriff” from the UK “Wonderful Tonight” CD single.

Journeyman Outtakes (ARMS / SB6)
Gems From The Back (label unknown / SB6)

This is the second set of studio outtakes to make it to the list. This behind-the-scenes look at songs in progress was recorded during March / April 1989 in New York City. Both titles contain instrumentals, unreleased or alternate takes, and different mixes than found on the officially relased Journeyman and Lethal Weapon 2 CDs. Some prefer this recording of “Hard Times” to the one that was released on Journeyman.

Honorable Mention:
Rolling Stones / Atlantic City 1989 (label / ##)
For those who like the Stones and want to check out an Eric in a “guest spot”, search out this four CD set. Soundboard

 

Where’s Eric! does not encourage or condone the manufacture of bootleg recordings. They are illegal and artists do not receive royalties from their sale. However, Where’s ERIC! realizes that there are fans who collect these recordings. In that spirit, information about them is provided for fans’ research and guidance purposes. Where’s ERIC! does not sell, trade or provide free copies of bootleg recordings nor can we tell you how to obtain them.