Eric Clapton is more than fairly represented when it comes to concert DVD releases. In fact, these stretch to seventeen different releases at the close of 2018. However, most of these feature festival shows from after 1999 and only really represent the latter stages of the legendary musician’s career.
It’s easy to see why his Old Grey Whistle Test performance from 1977 has never seen an official DVD release. Part of the reason likely lays with it still being owned by the BBC – never the most generous at opening their archives – but the current unavailability might have something to do with EC’s general state at the time of filming. In the middle of a bout of alcoholism, it hardly shows him in great shape. [This is definitely the reason his ‘Rolling Hotel’ documentary has never been released officially. Watching a fully imbibed Clappo slurring his words on a train in Germany is often an unsettling and sad experience.]
There’s one item missing from the EC DVD catalogue that should be considered essential when it comes to reissues. The ‘Live ’85’ VHS release has never been reissued or upgraded and that’s an absolute travesty. The 90 minutes worth of footage on that old tape presents Clapton at the peak of his 80s sheen.
His band featuring old stalwarts Chris Stainton and Jamie Oldaker are rarely anything short of amazing. Marcella Detroit’s appearance on backing vocals is something to be treasured and even Clapton himself seems to be enjoying the experience that a great band a hugely successful – if commercial – album and sobriety brings.
As expected, the new tunes like ‘She’s Waiting’ and ‘Tangled In Love’ come across well, bristling with an 80s pop-rock sharpness and the lengthy workout on ‘Same Old Blues’ ranks among the very finest performances of the track. Even older material like ‘Motherless Children’ and ‘Tulsa Time’ has a sense of vibrancy that the 80s band brings and ‘Badge’ gets completely revitalised into a lengthy jam.
With the 1986 ‘August’ shows possibly over-catered for with two DVDs available, it’s a shame that ‘Live ’85’ has been overlooked for so long [it’s not even mentioned in his extensive discography on Wikipedia!]. There must be an issue with licencing/ownership. If you’re lucky, you might find the Japanese bootleg – sourced straight from the VHS – and at a decent price, but it seems increasingly likely that this great show will never resurface in any official capacity.
The full 90 minute show – culled from old VHS tapes – can be enjoyed at the link below.