Bootleg multi-disc sets (4 or more discs) issued in deluxe packaging first appeared amongst Beatles collectors in the late 1980s. Soon, this trend spread to include material by other recording artists. Initially, all were of European origin. Eric Clapton bootleg box sets were also issued in Japan in extremely limited quantities. These boxes tend to assemble entire Japanese tour recordings from any given year in one place or collect multi-night runs, such as Clapton’s Royal Albert Hall residencies. These deluxe box sets tend to be the province of experienced collectors as they are difficult to obtain and often extraordinarily expensive. Prices in the hundreds of dollars were not unusual.
The most noteworthy Eric Clapton bootleg box sets are:
Further On Up The Crossroads (Why Not / quality varies)
This four-CD box set collects material starting with the first Rhythm & Blues Festival in Birmingham in 1964 (with Sonny Boy Williamson) through the summer of 1990 (the International Rock Awards). The great majority of tracks fall into the SB5 – SB6 range. It has things like a selection of Cream’s BBC performances; an early electric version of “Can’t Find My Way Home”; an alternate take of “Cold Turkey” from 1969; and rare live performances of “I’ve Got A Rock N Roll Heart’, “Knock On Wood”, and “Phone Booth” (with Robert Cray). It also collects the audio from many of Clapton’s television performances. It makes a great companion to the official release, “Crossroads”.
Note: Further On Up The Crossroads was reissued in early 1999 on the EC Label and did not come in a deluxe long box with a multi-page book. The content and the quality of the CDs are identical.
Wonderful Tonight (The Swingin’ Pig / SB6)
This six-CD box set comprises three complete shows in stunning soundboard quality — Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on 11 February 1978, Stadhalle, Bremen on 20 April 1983, and the Richmond, Virginia Coliseum on 22 April 1985 (sourced from the King Biscuit Flower Hour master tapes). Sound rivals official releases.
Behind The Sun Japan Tour 1985 (EC is Here)
Six shows on 12 discs with bonus replica back stage passes.
Remark You Made (EC is Here)
This 10 CD box collects the entire August Japan Tour from 1987.
Complete Japan Tour 1988 (EC is Here / 5)
8 CDs with a bonus DVD of an unedited Eric Clapton interview from MTV.
10 Days – The Complete Japanese Tour 1995 (Hoochie Coochie / 6)
This 20-CD deluxe box set captures the entire Japanese blues tour. There were slight variations in the set list from night to night. All shows are outstanding audience recordings. Issued as a limited edition.
On Guitar & Vocals, Me! (Jungle Tiger / 6)
A limited edition box set, with great packaging, issued in Japan. It has all eight shows from the Budokan, Tokyo run in October 1997. From the Eric Clapton Bootography: “If only the legitimate recording industry could produce something this good.” If you’re going to indulge in a set of this type, this is possibly the best one ever produced. The one drawback? Eric’s unchanging set list.
In The West Of Japan (Wow Wow Wow / 6)
This 10-CD limited box set, also issued in Japan, has five shows recorded in Fukuoka, Osaka (two nights), Hiroshima, and Nagoya in October 1997. Great packaging and stunning sound, but the set list never changed – an ongoing problem with post-1983 concerts.
Note: In 1999, these two sets were merged into one massive and elaborately packaged box, 13 Days – The Complete Japanese Tour 1997. A bonus disc was included which contained two outtakes from the Pilgrim Sessions – “Modern Girl” and an a cappella version of “Pilgrim”. The third and final track on the disc was a live version of “Change The World” from an unidentified source.
14 Gigs (Hoochie Coochie / 5)
The entire tour on 28 CDs sourced from great audience recordings. It gets a bit repetitive due to the unchanging setlist, but three shows standout in particular. 20 November 1999 was an amazing show from lights down and features a rare electric performance of “Before You Accuse Me” as the encore. 27 November was also consistently good with an rare acoustic performance of “Before You Accuse Me” (first time since the Unplugged taping on 16 January 1992). Finally, the 29 November performance starts out slow but Eric tears it up with his first performance of “Stormy Monday” in well over 20 years. The blues master at his best.
Vagabond (MidValley / 5)
Over The Rainbow (ZigZag / 5)
Eric’s triumphant return to London’s Royal Albert Hall. Both titles collect the 5 shows in very good audience recordings. The run debuted Eric’s newest band: stalwarts East, Gadd and Fairweather Low plus David Sancious and Paulinho DaCosta. The Impressions sang backup and had their own two-song mini-set. Interestingly, “I Shot The Sheriff” doesn’t come together for this lineup and is dropped from the set for the remainder of the tour. “Ain’t Gonna Stand For It” is a nightly standout. Features the debut performance of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. The final night of the run (10 February) is a real winner. The tour would get better as it went along, but these are still all around solid performances.
Eric Clapton Japan Tour 2001 (Zig Zag / 5)
34 discs, 16 shows. Two copies of the 4 December Budokan concert are included: a complete audience recording and an outstanding digital audio recording from the television soundtrack. Eric played fairly well on this tour and each night had its “moments”. The 21st November Osaka concert is notable, as he did not play the perennial crowd-pleaser, “Wonderful Tonight”. Truly outstanding shows were 22 November, 8 December, 11 December and the final night of the Reptile tour, 15 December.
Just For You Tour 2003 (EC is Here)
Eric’s return to the shores of Japan after a two-year absence. The 36 discs collect the entire tour. This tour heralded the return of the Guitar God of decades past which would reach full flower during the U.S. 2004 Tour. Eric tried out new material from his upcoming CD, Me & Mr. Johnson, added more blues and tossed some old chestnuts back into the set. Set lists would vary slightly with some songs making a single appearance, or just a handful.
Note: EC is Here later released some of the more outstanding nights as single show releases. They include 7th Night at Yokohama Arena, Yokahama; 11th Night at Budokan, Toyko and 16th Night at Budokan, Tokyo.
CBE at RAH (Hoochie Coochie / 5)
One of the label’s first deluxe releases, they do an outstanding job. Eric ended his 2004 European Tour at the Albert and the shows packed a punch.
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.