From 1963 to 1966, Eric Clapton worked with a series of bands which launched his career as a professional musician. From January to August 1963 he was with The Roosters. He then moved onto Casey Jones and the Engineers for a few performances. No recordings are known to exist of Eric’s time with these two bands. In October 1963, Eric joined The Yardbirds where he found his first fame. He remained with them until December 1964. Material from Eric’s time with The Yardbirds is best in its officially released form.
In April 1965, Eric joined John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. It is while he is with this band that we see the first of the essential “Eric Clapton Bootleg Recordings.” He then moved on to Cream and the band toured and recorded a great deal during their relatively short-lived existence. Even then, intrepid fans documented the performances for posterity. Today, there is an abundance of material available to collectors. Thanks to modern technology, a number of audience and soundboard recordings have been “remastered” resulting in a significant upgrade in quality.
In 1969, Eric Clapton worked with two bands: Blind Faith and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Blind Faith lasted for one tour and one studio album. Due to the short time the band was together, there are not many high-quality recordings available. Although a good number of Blind Faith concert recordings have surfaced, most are of poor quality. Eric’s association with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends was also short-lived. There was some studio work and a short tour of England and Europe and a handful of bootlegs exist.
The essential Eric Clapton bootleg recordings from these years are:
Primal Seed: 1965-1966 (Cross Border / SB 6)
All of the known-to-exist recordings of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers from Eric’s tenure with the band. Live performances, singles and BBC recordings are all contained on this single CD. The disc also features previously uncirculated BBC tracks.
Klooks Kleek ‘66 (Capricorn / SB6 tracks 1-10, SB3 tracks 11-17)
The first half of this disc contains studio outtakes from 1967 in excellent sound quality. If you are only interested in the studio outtakes, these 10 tracks are available on The Alternative Album (ITM Records / SB6). The second half has portions of two Cream performances from the Klooks Kleek Club in London in 1966. Note that the live tracks are from a vinyl source so there may be some pops and clicks. They are an excellent historical document of early Cream prior to their first U.S. visit in March 1967 and features great versions of “Spoonful” and “Lawdy Mama”.
Trinity (MidValley / 5)
A very good audience recording for its age recorded at the Marquee Club, London on 23 May 1967. Features performances of the rarely performed songs “Dance The Night Away” and “World Of Pain.” Great versions of “Tales Of Brave Ulysees”, “Sleepy Time Time” and “Outside Woman Blues”.
Silver Horses Running Moonbeams In Your Dark Eyes (Dandelion / SB6)
An “on” night for Cream at the Coliseum in Oakland, California. Eric, Jack and Ginger at the top of their game.
Sun Vanishes – Birth Of The Six Strings God (MidValley / SB5)
This is the best soundboard recording to surface from The Grande Ballroom in Detroit on 15 October 1967. By this time, Cream was much more adventurous in their playing when compared to shows earlier in year. This set features a truly amazing version of “Spoonful”. “NSU” and “Steppin’ Out” are excellent examples of why Eric is credited as being one of the prime innovators of feedback as a musical tool. “NSU” also features a live example of Eric’s distinctive “woman tone” sound.
Note: Alternatives (with minimally reduced sound quality) are Real Cream (Gold Standard / SB5) with bonus tracks from Winterland in San Francisco on 8 March 1968 and Dazed & Cream (Bell Bottom / SB5). The only difference between the two alternates is that “Hideaway” was substituted for “Sleepy Time Time” on the Dazed & Cream release. AVOID Creamset (Gold Standard) as an alternative because the second disc contains sound problems.
California ‘68 (Perfect Blue Music Co. / SB4)
This two-disc set represents Cream at their peak with complete sets from Oakland and Los Angeles in October 1968. Tracks include “White Room”, “Politician”, “Deserted Cities Of The Heart”, and “NSU” among others. A good alternative is Live Cream Vol. 3 (BTM ARTZI / SB5), but it only has the Oakland show.
Blues Condition (Hiwatt / SB6)
This CD collects all 26 Cream BBC performances on a single disc. The tracks are drawn from various shows such as Top Of Pops, Saturday Club, and Top Gear and were recorded between 11 November 1966 and 9 January 1968. All tracks have appeared on other discs, but the sound quality is much improved here (some tracks still have some hiss or tiny glitches). The disc provides a nice summary of the development of the band. Particularly useful in this regard are the two versions of “Steppin’ Out” (one recorded in November 1966 and the other, in January 1968). The recording of “I’m So Glad” is unique in that Clapton plays a bit of the 1812 Overture. The playing is a bit restrained due to time limitations imposed by the BBC. Also included are the original “groovy” introductions by John Peel and Brian Matthews and two short interviews with a very young-sounding Clapton. This disc will likely be made obsolete in March 2003 when the BBC officially releases Cream’s radio sessions, as they have successfully done for Led Zeppelin, The Who, and others.
Long Time Comin’ (Hawk / SB4 & SB5)
This single CD is historically important because it documents the band’s reunion at the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993. It features rehearsals plus the Hall Of Fame performance.
Stepping Stones Vol. 1 & 2 (Silver Rarities / SB4)
This recording is from Gothenburg, Sweden on 13 June 1969. Blind Faith played only modest clubs during this short Scandinavian Tour — which was much more suitable for a new band than the mammoth U.S. tour that followed. “Do What You Like” offered an extended solo spot for each artist — plus Clapton plays an exceptional solo on “Sleeping In The Ground”. Note that Volume One starts with six tracks by Cream at the L.A. Forum on 18 October 1968.
Noblesse Oblige (Mid Valley Records/ 5)
Recorded on 16 August 1969 at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara California. This is a quite good audience recording for the era but it is not the complete performance. Released in late 2004, the recording seems to have benefitted in upgrades in remastering technology. It is undoubtedly the best document of the ill-fated tour. The set list featured, in part, “Had To Cry Today”, “Presence Of The Lord”, and “Means To An End”.
DELANEY & BONNIE & FRIENDS:
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour Again With Eric Clapton (Mid Valley Records / Tracks 1-9: SB4 / Tracks 10-12: SB3 / Track 13: SB4 / Tracks 14-15: SB6)
Issued in late 1999, there is finally a Delaney & Bonnie disc worth owning! This single disc collects a series of performances in November 1969 as well two studio outtakes. George Harrison joins the band for the concert at Jahrhundert in Frankfurt (most likely the source is a video). There are also live bits from Beat Club (Germany) and the Sports Palais in Cologne.
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.