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Phil Collins on Eric Clapton's new  live DVD

The 80s were a very hectic decade for Phil, though he repeatedly claimed he enjoyed everything he burdened himself with. Making his own music with meticulous precision, playing the drums and producing records for various artists were what his life consisted of. And touring with his pal and “next door neighbour” Eric Clapton was something that happened coincidentally. In the summer of 1986, Phil had produced Behind The Sun for Eric and the succeeding record August was also due for release.
Summer equals festival season! Eric had whistled up Phil on drums, Nathan East on bass guitar and Greg Phillinganes on keyboards for a couple of gigs so that he could perform fresh versions of both his current material such as Wanna Make Love To You and the classics in his repertoire (like Cocaine and Layla) for a large audience. Twenty years ago, the foursome played a very light-hearted gig at the Montreux Jazz Festival. This performance of nearly two hours length has now been released on a DVD that might make collectore happy but is bound to dissappoint DVD freaks.

The features
“Eric Clapton – Live At Montreux 1986”. That’s what it says on the cover. “With special guests Phil Collins, Nathan East, Greg Gillinganes.” Then a sticker with a selection of the set list. All very true – but that’s really all there is on the DVD. The main menu offers three choices: “Play” (for the main video), “Song Selections” (titles can be picked from three consecutive pages – couldn’t they fit them on one page?) and “Audio Options” where one can pick PCM Stereo, Dolby Surround 5.1 or DTS. This is one of the reasons the DVD was published: Fans who perhaps recorded this from TV a couple of years ago can now enjoy the best sound quality. The screen format? 16:9. Apart from that there is no difference from a normal TV concert, no extra features such as backstage reports, interviews, commentary tracks, documentaries, no nothing. Just the show.
The menus are accompanied by snippets from the concert as appetizers. Bonus marks: The booklet offers a very insightful essay by musician biographer Michael Heatley that explains how and why this band happened to tour in this very constellation. There also is a copy of the 1986 festival poster that showed some stylized people by Keith Haring. It’s the same motive that, illuminated by neon lights, decorated the backdrop of the otherwise dark stage. The DVD is actually a product of the Montreux Jazz Festival marketing department, one in a series of recently released Live At Montreux concerts featuring James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Cocker and Suzanne Vega, to name but a few. This list shows that Montreux has been looking beyond the limits of musical styles.

coverThe content

Let us focus on the show itself: 16 songs are played, among them Sunshine Of Your Love and White Room. It’s the full Slowhand treatment with some Cream on top. The focus is on the music and its interpretation; Clapton does not bother with long introductions, one song follows the other. There are a couple of minimal flaws, but then it is a live concert. One mess-up, however, can hardly go by unnoticed: To the surprise of the Phil Collins fans in the audience the drummer sits down on his giant amp, the In The Air Tonight loop rings out, Phil sings … and Eric comes in far too early with his big guitar chord. Phil calmly gestures that that one should have come later, goes on to sing “well, I remember” and the song was saved. Even revered professional musicians are only human, to the amusement of the fan. Perfectionists like Collins may be unhappy with the relase, though. The musicians have a good time playing (which is essential for a good concert), but merciless modern recording techniques bare the various styles of playing of the four musicians: There is the demanding, occasionally exaggerated driving sound of Collins mixed with the soulful style of the Americans and Clapton’s straightforwardness from blues and rock. It may be debated whether the slower version of Crossroads offered on this DVD is better or worse than the original. The feeling is different. I Shot The Sheriff is even further removed from Bob Marley’s reggae feel and moved toward funk. The mood grows more relaxed and jazzy for Same Old Blues (track 6); it is a longer blues number with solos. Nathan East scats deliciously, Phil offers interesting variations – he always has total control over the band, and the listener/watcher can lay back and surrender to the professionalism of the musicians. Eric’s shirt grows ever wetter and even Phil’s canary yellow trousers are not as loud anymore.

All in all...

The DVD is a must for fans who attended the concert. Collectors should consider getting it because it is quite a treat – a concert rarity, not necessarily something for the audiophile. Those who take a general interest may be happy with watching it once. It is an interesting and historical document from the archives, as it were: Loud clothes, loud stage set up, mullets, minds set on Success!, four professionals hard at work.
On the other hand, a DVD titled Eric Clapton And Friends – Live 1986 was released in 2003. It features the final concert of the tour in Birmingham with that same band. According to this recording is only 60 minutes long, probably also without the In The Air Tonight blunder. Whether that merits €15.95 for a DVD sans further features is up to the individual.
The menus for the direct choice of songs is not too clear. Someone seems to have opted for a larger font to accommodate for presbyoptic customers instead of having all titles on one concise page or including a convenient scroll function.

Eric Clapton - Live At Montreux - Setlist

White Room
I Shot The Sheriff
I Wanna Make Love To You
Miss You
Same Old Blues
Tearing Us Apart
Holy Mother
Behind The Mask
Let It Rain
In The Air Tonight
Sunshine Of Your Love
Further On Up The Road

Guest musicians: Greg Phillinganes, Phil Collins and Nathan East

Region code: 0
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 und dts, PCM Stereo
Image: 16:9 PAL
Playing time: 114 min

Friends DVDA year before this one a DVD called Eric Clapton & Friends live was released. It also features Phil Collins on drums. The DVD has a shorter set, but it is no less interesting. Both DVDs are published by Eagle Vision.

by Anneke Brüning

English by Martin Klinkhardt

Phil Collins

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