And More...

A prowling, menacing riff leads into the Bruce/Brown Politician that could have been slow heavy metal twelve bar by numbers if it wasn’t for Clapton’s interwoven guitar overdubs, Baker’s precise percussive punctuation and Brown’s cynical lyric line given a reasonably straight delivery in Bruce’s vocal. Contrast, if you will, with the Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments version, complete with Brown’s introductory monologue in all its twelve-minute glory here.

The Ginger Baker/Mike Taylor combo scores again on Those Were the Days, a percussion showpiece with Baker on drums, marimba, tubular bells and Felix Pappalardi banging away on Swiss hand bells. Again, there seems to have been some thought and effort going into the words, Bruce gets to sing and Clapton unleashes some stinging frenetic guitar over the percussive melee.

That’s followed by Born Under a Bad Sign, a fairly orthodox rendition of a contemporary blues standard by Booker T. Jones and William Bell, originally recorded by Albert King with any number of subsequent versions (Wikipedia lists, among others, Big Mama Thornton, Blue Cheer, Booker T. and the M.G.s, Buddy Miles, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Koko Taylor with Buddy Guy, Paul Butterfield, Paul Rodgers, Peter Green, Rita Coolidge and Robben Ford). Bruce walks around the basic riff on bass, Baker syncopates around that and Clapton reworks King’s solo in his own style, with an edgy sound that’s unmistakably Claptonesque. 

There’d been a fair bit of the cinematic across Disraeli Gears (Tales of Brave UlyssesWorld of Pain) and earlier in Wheels of Fire (White RoomPassing the Time) but the Bruce/Brown Deserted Cities of the Heart, three and a half minutes that, for me at least, is the album’s most successful track moves those elements into another dimension.

Or would have if they’d opted to reprise the furious Clapton solo that burns and aches with frustration in the middle as a play out. Now my heart’s drowned in cold dark streams, indeed.

With a couple of nights recorded, the selection of tracks to include on Disc two: Live at the Fillmore seems to have been based on what producer Pappalardi thought needed to go on there (obvious enough, but there’s this issue of sharing the spotlight around three ways, which means we were always going to be getting a lengthy Toad). 


B© Ian Hughes 2012