The word Definitive in the title is correct. This is a significant overhaul of October 1991’s original Eric Clapton 2CD 24 Nights, now expanded to fill six CDs (or 16 sides of vinyl) either as a box set (boosted by Blu-ray video) or three standalone double CDs – subtitled Rock, Blues and Orchestral to reflect the different star-studded backing Clapton employed on various nights of his long residencies.
The material stands both as a broadly-based hits collection and a collectors dream (35 of the 47 performances are previously unreleased). On the 18-song Rock CD contemporary favourites Pretending, Bad Love and the Bo Diddley cover Before You Accuse Me are all very good, but the likes of White Room, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, a soaring nine-minute Wonderful Tonight and Sunshine Of Your Love encore outshine them.
The 14 tracks on Blues fit on two vinyl discs and see Clapton taking a supporting role to either keyboard player Johnny Johnson (star of Johnson’s Boogie), or guests including Albert Collins (notably on Black Cat Bone) and Buddy Guy (brilliant on My Time After A While).
Orchestral is the best of the trio – because conductor Michael Kamen adds drama rather than mere dressing, seemingly inspiring percussionist Ray Cooper, the backing singers, and EC himself to greater heights (especially on the 29-minute Concerto For Electric Guitar). From the opening Layla coda served as an intro to Crossroads, and on through Can’t Find My Way Home (sung by Nathan East), Edge Of Darkness and a stunning and complete Layla it’s superb.