ARTIST: Derek & the Dominoes
TITLE: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: #16 US, #68 UK
SINGLES: Tell the Truth, Layla (#10 US, #7 UK), Bell Bottom Blues (#78 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Little Wing, Key to the Highway
LINEUP: Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Duane Allman. Aibhy Galuten on one track.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Clapton forms a band and releases his magnum opus.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Tired of the crushing fame and adulation he was receiving, and wanting just to play, Eric Clapton formed a band hot on the heels of his work with Delaney & Bonnie and George Harrison. The core (Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon) foursome had grown tight while touring with Delaney & Bonnie.
Clapton wanted to be anonymous, so they toured under this name in the UK and then moved to Miami to record this album. Duane Allman joined the sessions soon after he and Clapton jammed together, and over time, the quintet recorded this classic mix of blues and rock-and-roll, with Allman’s slide guitar fitting in seamlessly over Clapton’s blues based guitar playing. The songs were mostly co-written by Clapton and Whitlock, with some tasty covers thrown in for good measure.
The production by Tom Dowd is absolutely perfect, with all of the musicians blending well together seamlessly. Whitlock and Clapton’s vocal pairings were complimentary – neither a perfect vocalist, but they made it work together.
With the title cut, “Bell Bottom Blues” (one of my all-time favorite tracks by anyone) and the other tracks, it’s just a fantastic record from start to finish.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was the only studio record the band recorded. They made a live album, but sessions for their second album broke down thanks to the band’s prodigious use of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. Whitlock and Clapton didn’t work together again until 2000.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, sessions for the album, and some of the completed or semi-completed tracks for their second album are on releases.
GRADE: A+: Listen to “Bell Bottom Blues” closely, hearing how they interplay, and hear the production.