After releasing Backless in 1978, Eric Clapton would not issue another studio album until 1981. He filled the vacuum with a double live set, Just One Night, issued in April of 1980. The concert was recorded at The Budokan Theatre in Tokyo, Japan at the end of 1979.
This remains my favorite Clapton live album. While his guitar playing was laid back and somewhat muted at times on his solo work, here in a live setting he steps forward and demonstrates why he is one of the better guitar gods to ever walk this earth.
Songs such as “Tulsa Time,” “Cocaine,” “After Midnight,” and “Blues Power” were all excellent studio creations, but live they move in different directions and exhibit new textures. Clapton’s guitar bursts and solos are surprising, tasty, and always well placed. The great Albert Lee is on board as the second guitarist and he pushes and even challenges Clapton at times which results in his consistently playing at a high level.
The eight songs that comprise disc one have a number of highs. His rollicking version of "Tulsa Time" is classic and his staccato beat on “Lay Down Sally” is just right. The traditional blues number “Early In The Morning” provides a wonderful vehicle for Clapton to play the music he loves as only he can do. “Wonderful Tonight” and “After Midnight” also receive nice translations.
Disc two of the original vinyl release is one of the finest stretches of live material ever recorded and stands the test of time well. The crashing chords of “Cocaine” and the raw energy of “Blues Power,” are spectacular and memorable. The Robert Johnson blues masterpiece “Rambling On My Mind” is close to nine minutes of Clapton twisting chords and improvising. Still the album’s best track may be Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble.” The phrasing plus the clarity of his sound are some of the best of his career.
Just One Night remains a timeless live album. It was a huge commercial success reaching number two on the American charts. If you are a fan of Clapton or the guitar, this is the album for you.