ERIC CLAPTON -- Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert (Polygram)

On January 13, 1973, Eric Clapton and 7 of the top musicians of the time performed 2 charity concerts at the Rainbow Theatre on London's north side. The shows were organized and produced by Pete Townshend. Highlights from the two shows were released later that year as Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert.

Twenty two years later, Polydor has reissue the album with 8 bonus tracks. The reissue has several improvements over the original issue. There are also some definite disappointments as well. First the good points..

The bonus tracks, previously only available in lesser quality on bootlegs, are a welcome addition. The new CD is over twice as long as the original. The sound quality has been improved tremendously. However, the hiss from the master tape can still be heard. The stage banter between the songs has been added to most of the tracks on the CD. It's obvious that everyone involved is clearly enjoying themselves. All of the musicians give stellar performances throughout the CD. One of the biggest highlights is the inclusion of the first track -- Layla. This marks the first time that a live electric version of the song has been released commercially. The new liner notes contain a new essay from Clapton biographer, Ray Coleman.

Now for the bad points.. Four of the original six songs have been edited. Three of them have had two minutes or more cut from them. They should have left off one of the bonus tracks & kept the other songs intact. The tape hiss mentioned above is rather obtrusive at times, such as the quieter passages between songs. Considering the excellent job producers Jon Astley & Andy Macpherson did on the recent Who reissues, I had expected higher standards to be met.

A few things neither good nor bad.. Roll it Over & Little Wing now have different introductions. As for the new cover art, the rainbow colored lettering is now gone. What we have now is black and white lettering on a gold background instead. None of the photos from the original cover were used in the reissue.

All in all, Polydor has done a fine job with this reissue. While there are things that shouldn't have been done on the CD, the end result is a much better memoir of the concerts than what was previously available. Just be sure to keep your original, if you had one!

© 1997 Steve Marshall