Derek and the Dominos played the Berkeley Community Theater on both November 18th and 19th, 1970. The appropriately titled Journeymen features a sixteen year old Neal Schon sitting in with the band on the second night. Neal’s presence is absent in the first four tracks and it’s not until “Tell The Truth” that his guitar playing becomes apparent. At first he sounds rather tentative but it’s not long before he really loosens up. Marc Roberty’s book, Thirty Years of Music and Memorabilia, states that Eric asked Neal to join permanently but he declined and later joined Santana. It may sound strange, but he would have made a good addition to this lineup. Even at such a young age, he sounds like a seasoned pro.
The inclusion of the Chuck Berry medley and the rarely played “Mean Old World” makes tonight’s set interesting. A great version of “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” is unfortunately cut shortly after the six minute mark where there is a small fragment of what could be either the end of “Stormy Monday” or “Everyday I Have The Blues”. (Both of these tracks are in the key of C and feature Bobby Whitlock on piano but it is impossible to tell which one it may be.) This end fragment shares the same sound quality as the rest of this tape but doesn’t seem to match any other part of the recording. “Mean Old World” is also incomplete, cutting in at the beginning and missing the end.
There are some true highlights here in “Blues Power” and “Let it Rain” where Neal and Eric’s playing really comes together. This is definitely one of the better live versions of “Let it Rain” which has the two soloing together similar to the outro of the studio version. Personally, I’ve always felt this track needed a second (or third) guitar and Neal adds a nice touch.
There are certainly better recordings from this tour. The tape is somewhat distant, muffled and has a muddy presence to it with the bass causing some distortion in the low end. That aside, parts of the recording can be clear and still enjoyable with the band delivering a worthwhile performance.
This tape has previously surfaced as Little Wing on Blackie and Knights In Blue Denim on Mid Valley. The songs on Little Wing are not in the correct order and the title has some speed issues. For some reason, the Chuck Berry medley, consisting of “Little Queenie” and “Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller”, is missing from Mid Valley’s version.
ARMS claims to be a new upgrade from the master source and when compared with Blackie’s version, Journeymen is louder with a fuller sound and is at least closer to the master if not directly from it. The intrigue of Eric and Neal playing together would be enough to own this title for most Clapton fans, but the average collector may want to pass on this one.