In Concert by Derek and the Dominos was one of the earliest albums I purchased as a young lad. Even though the extended version “Live at the Filmore” was released on CD some 20 years later, it is the 1973 “In Concert” album that is still highly sought after. While I don’t know the exact differences, some tracks on the extended Live at the Filmore were taken from other nights during their four show run at the venue that year when compared to the selections used on In Concert.
Comprised of nine songs, In Concert is filled with plenty of jams that stretch out and create relaxed and soulful versions of songs including "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad," "Got to Get Better in a Little While," and of course “Let it Rain.” This is an outstanding showcase for Eric Clapton fans primarily for its transcendent moments and the beautiful interplay of the musicians, especially on the Dominos repertory.
But, as great as the performances are there has always been some disappointment in the sound quality. The good news is the 24 bit / 192kHz FLAC download released in May 2014 improves upon this, although within the limits of the 2 track master. Going back to the vinyl record, listeners will find it is thin, lacking warmth in the mid-range, along with very splashy cymbals that cut through the vocals, guitars, and keyboards throughout the album. Thankfully the high resolution FLAC download corrects much of this by rebalancing the spectrum, giving a smooth richness to the lower mid-range and shimmer to the upper mid-range. The cymbals are not distracting and are much fuller than the vinyl copy I have on hand. It is much easier to hear the snare and kick drum, along with some nice bottom to the bass on the FLAC.
Yet, given the improvements, it is the overall mix that causes the instruments to fight with each other. Aural separation simply doesn’t exist, rather it is a wall of sound that blocks the listener from truly experiencing the concert as a replicant of the actual show. Had this been recorded 20 years later, I am certain the sound quality would be radically improved and would have placed the listener right upfront. Alas, we are left with a great album with mediocre sound.
Even with the limitations of the recording and hi-res remaster, this is still highly recommended, especially at the price point of under $17 on Pono Music. Surely fans of Eric Clapton and Derek and the Dominos will want to include this in their collection, while high resolution audio enthusiasts should be aware that while the sound is improved, it is a moderate improvement at best.
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