I can’t help it but I’ve sort of become obsessed with this recording and its many versions. I must apologise to Eric Clapton‘s myriad of fans, but my interest is not in the music but in Peter Blake‘s cover art. I have described this in a previous post.
Eric Clapton performed a total of 42 shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991. All were recorded but Clapton was not satisfied with the 1990 concerts and “24 Nights” included recordings from various nights between 5th February and 9th March (the 24 nights in the record’s title). Its primary release form was a double CD, released on 8th October 1991, just seven months after Eric Clapton concluded the 24 shows. The album was simultaneously released on double LP and double cassette–both these being pressed in Germany.Warner Brothers Records also produced a 73 x 31 cm promotional lithograph with Peter Blake’s drawings from the “24 Nights” sessions.
Perhaps it is important to add that while Peter Blake did the drawings used on the cover of the album, the design group Wherefore Art (David Costa) were responsible for the final design/layout of the cover art.
I also posted a description of Genesis Publication’s boxed set “24 Nights – The Limited Edition: The Music of Eric Clapton-The Drawings of Peter Blake” published in 1991 and mentioned how this project led to a long-term friendship between musician and artist that has resulted in several more record covers. I have also just found out that David Costa‘s Wherefore Art design bureau assisted Genesis Publications in the design of the limited edition box set of “24 Nights“.
My collection includes the double LP and a couple of singles from the album as well as the Genesis Publications’ Limited Edition. In 2009 I curated an exhibition of Peter Blake‘s record cover art at Piteå Museum, produced in association with Jan Wimander and Piteå Dansar och Ler festival. Sometime in the months preceding the opening of the exhibition I came across thirteen prints of drawings by Peter Blake that were obviously related to the “24 Nights” release, but I had no idea how, or where they came from.
Having only bought the Genesis Publications’ version in February 2016, I could check the prints against the pages in the Scrapbook of Peter Blake‘s drawings and photographs (by Peter Blake, Graham Salter and Brian Roylance) in the set. My thirteen prints were single-sided and were copies of pages in the “Scrapbook“. Even the paper quality resembled that in the book. However, all the Scrapbook‘s pages were printed on both sides, so my prints could not have been cut out of one of the books.
I have not been able to find out any more about the prints, or where they came from, but they make an interesting addition to my Peter Blake collection.
The Genesis Publications limited edition box also contained another book “Commentary” by Derek Taylor, a pack of memorabilia (plectra, guitar strings , badge, backstage pass etc.) and a folder with two CDs of the “24 Nights” recordings including three extra tracks– ‘No Alibis‘, ‘I Shot the Sheriff‘, ‘Layla’ – orchestra introduction’— purported not to be available elsewhere.
In my search for more record covers with Peter Blake‘s art I discovered that Reprise Records, to whom Clapton was under contract, had released a two-track 7″single from the “24 Nights” album (“Wonderful Tonight/Edge of Darkness“) with cover art by Peter Blake. A few months ago I stumbled across a six-track, “collectors edition” CD EP “Wonderful Tonight” that I had not heard of previously that had the same cover art as the 7″ single. The remaining tracks on the CD were: “No Alibis”, “I Shot the Sheriff”, “‘Layla’ – orchestra introduction” and “Cocaine” and a second version of “Wonderful Tonight”— all from the “24 Nights” sessions! Thus it was possible for collectors to obtain the three, so called “exclusive” tracks from the Box set for a considerably more modest price.
Just as another piece of information, Clapton had released a version of “No Alibis” recorded on his “Journeyman” tour on a single in March 1990–before his first series of Albert Hall concerts.
And, then there were two bootleg CDs of recordings from the “24 Nights” sessions. Beano records released a CD of the 5th February 1991 concert entitled “24 Nights-First Night, 5th February 1991” and another CD was issued of the fourth night’s concert at which George Harrison had been guest artist. This was a CD-ROM with no record company identified.
I think this just about exhausts what I have been able to find out about the recordings of the “24 Nights” album. I think I can now move on.