Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler Perform “Cocaine” and “Sultans of Swing” in 1988

July 11th, 2016

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By Damian Fanelli | Photo: Peter Still/Getty Images

Feel free to watch the entire clip. However, if you skip directly to 3:48 in the top video, you’ll witness an inspired 1988 performance of J.J. Cale’s “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton—with an assortment of special guests, including Elton John and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler—at Japan’s Tokyo Dome.

This was during the period when Clapton had turned “Cocaine” into a production, with a long band intro, background singers, a funky bass line, a lengthy keyboard solo, various stops and starts and the addition of the lyric, “ooh, that dirty cocaine.”

Luckily, guitar is still at the forefront of the performace. Clapton’s solo starts at 5:12.

Unfortunately, Knopfler doesn’t solo in this particular version of “Cocaine”—which is only fitting because Clapton doesn’t solo in the bottom video, a 1988 performance of “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits and Clapton. Knopfler starts his mesmerizing “Sultans of Swing” solo at 4:58.

But watch out for that smooth jazz breakdown at 6:10! Ah, the Eighties, when everyone felt they had to make a production out of everything. Simple and stipped down went out the window. Just compare the production on Clapton’s No Reason to Cry (1976) to Behind the Sun (1985). But I digress…

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