Updated 24 March 2007
cdr - good sound - Sound 4+ - 96min - master - tracks 26
cdr2 - good sound - Sound 4 - 100min - alt source - tracks 27
The Clash first played the impressive Edinburgh Playhouse in May 77 on the White Riot tour but played other venues in the city before returning in 1982 (and again in 1984).
A hastily arranged second night was added on the 25th after their Inverness date on the 24th. The demand for tickets presumably a key factor but also surely must have been the reaction of the audience (Edinburgh had long been established within the band as a “Clash city”) with exceptionally adding a third encore and playing 26 songs ending with Car Jamming.
Apparently this gig was filmed but there is no video in circulation. Fortunately however two audience recordings are in circulation, the master of one has very good sound indeed and is one of the best bootlegs of this tour. This master recording is well worth seeking out and if the missing parts are added from the alternative source a complete gig can be assembled of this memorable night in Edinburgh.
The grade A listed Edinburgh Playhouse first opened in 1929 as a cinema. Its capacity is 3,059, (Stalls: 1,519, Balcony: 860 and Circle: 680) making it the UK's largest working non-sporting theatre in terms of audience capacity. The building is one of the finest surviving examples of the "super-cinema" built in an era when creating a feeling of opulence and grandeur, as well as maximising seating capacity was top of the list. Closed to cinema in 1973, and narrowly escaping demolition, it has hosted many bands and performers, as well as now being mainly used for touring musicals.
The building has a unique design, making best use of its steeply sloping site, with a small low facade giving little indication of the scale of the auditorium concealed behind; the grand circle is entered from street level, with stairs down to the stalls, and stairs up to the upper circle.
The venue has hosted almost everyone; in 1982 The Jam, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones also hit the massive stage but then so did Sir Cliff Julio Iglesias!
Two different audience recordings circulate of the gig but in varying quality.
The master of the best recording is of excellent quality for an audience recording of the time, using superior equipment to the majority of Clash audience bootlegs. Instrumentation is very clear and detailed revealing much more of the nuances of the performances than most bootlegs from the tour. Being an audience recording, vocals lack that in your face quality of a sound board source and are a little distant. The taper’s microphone gets regularly knocked on the early songs before finding a safe place for it and there are some tape wear volume fluctuations. The recording is not complete it starts 2/3rds into London Calling and stops 2/3rds into Complete Control, omitting the final Car Jamming altogether. Some circulating sources of this recording omit the partial London Calling at the start, beginning with Clash City Rockers.
The alternate source is a low gen audience recording of good quality for its time with some limited stereo separation. It just lacks the range, detail and dynamics of the other master recording. It does though start with the usual intro music and a complete London Calling, Complete Control and Car Jamming finishing as the house lights and PA come on. It does though suffer from digital clipping on the last few songs.
Therefore a complete recording of this memorable gig is possible by combining the master source with the missing parts from the lesser alternate source.
The alternative audience recording begins with the usual Morricone intro before Joe announces to a roar, “Good evening and welcome to you all, this is London Calling to the faraway towns”. The best master recording begins a little over a minute or so from end of a strong performance with lots of knocks on the microphone as the taper finds a safe position presumably not in the stalls.
The quality of this recording is clear on a fine Clash City Rockers, the band audibly pumped up and Joe and Mick’s vocal interplay particularly enjoyable. Next up The Leader gets its first outing since Christchurch in February. White Man in Hammersmith Palais again a highlight on this tour, the recording bringing out the detail of the instrumentation with Terry adding his “chops” to the final extended instrumental ending. Janie Jones sounds great; “Lucky lady” shouts Mick and the band are clearly working hard responding to the enthusiasm of the audience. There’s great clarity now on the master recording, Guns of Brixton sounds excellent picking out the fills and detail as the band get a chance to stretch out musically. Bass lines are audible if not that prominent.
“He’s gonna sing in English and I’m gonna sing in Spanish, I hope!” jokes Joe before a fine Should I Stay or Should I Go. Mick’s lead guitar is buried on a rather shambolic start to Know Your Rights with just Terry’s relentless monotone thump not helping. It gets better dropping down effectively to emphasise Joe’s lyrical advice but the song needing much more of a rockabilly swing as it can sound hard rock turgid live.
Mick’s siren effects herald the start of The Call Up, another highlight, a great sounding example of this underrated song live. It ends as usual on this tour with the audience taking up alone the “Hup 2-3-4”’s as the band drop out instrument by instrument until Joe interrupts them with a “Don’t you ever stop..” and the band launch into Magnificent Seven. This song is sounding tired live generally on this tour now with Mick’s lead work again not particularly effective, concentrating on a choppy funky style that does not quite work, much better in 81 to these ears. An OK but not great Mag 7 by any means.
After a short pause, there’s very little chat by Joe with the audience between songs, Mick’s lead guitar heralds the start of Police On My Back. There’s lots of echo on Mick and Joe’s vocals, the drop down instrumental section again the highlight. Wrong Em Boyo next with instrumentation including Terry’s drum fills clear, is very enjoyable. The superior audience recording for its time helps to make a tight Rock The Casbah very enjoyable.
An edit on the master recording loses the first 10 seconds of Career Opportunities, complete on the alt. source. The most obvious contrast between Terry and Topper is on the crescendo intros to I Fought The Law and here on Somebody Got Murdered; Terry was never able to pull it off like Topper. Otherwise it’s a fine performance.
The band blast through Brand New Cadillac and rend end the main set with a good but not great Clampdown; not extended and few adlibs. Terry’s drum attack over the final climax sounds great though.
The first encore begins with Ghetto Defendant with great clarity on the superior source recording; Mick’s splinter guitar fills sound great. “It is heroin pity “pleads Joe before instructing the segue into Armagideon Time. A song live that needs inventive fills and Mick’s are good here with lots of effects too making for a very enjoyable performance. “Welcome to the Mick Jones show! This one is called Stay Free” Mick sings with intensity but the final coda lacks inventive lead guitar on his best versions. Terry tries the crescendo intro to I Fought The Law but again fails to hit the climax!
The second encore as usual begins with the bass drum thump thump intro to Straight To Hell with probably Mick coming back on stage with his gas mask fitted. It’s a fine performance with Micks’ guitar clear and effective. The band then charge through a fine if unexceptional Safe European Home before the usual finale of a pumped up Garageland.
“Adios” says Joe before the band are persuaded to return unusually for a third encore. However an edit is unclear and it maybe the band decides just to continue. Either way the band play an always welcome Jimmy Jazz, with Micks solo lead effective and clear. Only shame is it does not get an extended treatment. Two and a half minutes into a very enjoyable Complete Control the tape runs out on the best source but the alt. tape continues albeit with lesser sound and continuous digital clipping. Car Jamming instructs Joe after which although the audience continues to shouts for more the PA music comes on and a memorable gig is over.
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