Eric Clapton - guitar, vocals; Bobby Whitlock - keyboards, vocals; Carl Radle - bass; Jim Gordon - drums
This is a complete recording of the late show Derek and the Dominos played as headliners over Ballin' Jack and Humble Pie at the Fillmore East.
After months touring with Delaney and Bonnie and collaborating with them on his first solo album, Clapton took the nucleus of his band - Whitlock, Radle and Gordon - and formed Derek and the Dominos. By 1970, Clapton had amassed an impressive catalogue on which to draw, and these musicians jelled in a way that certainly brought out the best in the material. For many fans, this quartet was the most consistently exciting group Clapton ever toured with, and these concerts feature some of the most passionate live playing of his career.
Kicking things off with "Got To Get Better In A Little While," a track from an unreleased second album, Clapton and the group immediately begin jamming at a level more refined than those he touched on with his days with Cream. The ferocious battles for dominance in Cream are replaced by a more cohesive and thoughtful mode of playing that lets everyone in the band shine.
A relaxed "Key to the Highway" follows, proving that Clapton could still play with a blues authenticity few others could match, even though the tune is really just a warm up of better things to come. "Tell The Truth" and the "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" that follows both show the most intriguing side of this band's original material. Bobby Whitlock's impassioned vocals bring out a resonance in these songs that Clapton singing alone could never have hoped to achieve. Even without Duane Allman's distinctive contributions on the studio versions of these tracks, the creative synergy the band achieves here is astonishing. This almost 15 minute version of "Why Does Love…" absolutely sizzles from beginning to end and features some of the most captivating jamming of the show.
Next up is "Blues Power," here rocked out to over twice the length of the studio version before getting slowed back down again. "Have You Ever Loved a Woman," a song Clapton redefined back in his days with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, gets an extended treatment here, and exemplifies his enduring passion for pure blues.
They go on to perform "Bottle of Red Wine," another fine rocker, on which Whitlock shines, followed by "Presence of the Lord," an introspective song Clapton recorded with Blind Faith and that was, in retrospect, a prototype for much of his later work. An intriguing wah-wah solo is a definite highlight. A lovely cover of one of Jimi Hendrix's most beautiful compositions, "Little Wing," follows, and then it's a monumental workout on the set closer, "Let It Rain," featuring plenty of improvising and a lengthy drum solo from Jim Gordon.
For the encore, they return with "Crossroads," here slowed down considerably from the frenetic Cream version, but still featuring many of Clapton's trademark riffs and hot improvising from the entire band.
This night is the looser, more improvisational of the two shows, but both are wonderful performances. Clapton would rarely ever play with this much passion again. When this tour ended, Clapton went into deep despair and the flame in his guitar playing was forever diminished upon his return several years later. These shows capture the end of that initial incredible era in Clapton's career, an era that justifiably made him a guitar legend.