By 1970 Eric Clapton had already enjoyed more acclaim then many musicians achieve in a life time, from the R&B of the Yardbirds through the first Supergroup collectives of Cream and Blind Faith, the guitarist appeared to have finally found what he was looking for while touring the USA with the excellent Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1969.
In an effort to recreate the friendly, leaderless, family like atmosphere of Delaney & Bonnie, Clapton recruited the rhythm section from that band to join himself and a guesting Duane Allman, to become Derek & The Dominos in 1970.
Having toured and played together on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass solo album, the band already sounded as though they had been together for years and work soon began on the album Layla.
Forming a strong song writing axis with Memphis born Bobby Whitlock (keyboards/vocals)their respective influences presented an incredible showcase for the band with an eclectic mix of blues, r&b, rock,soul, country and gospel inflected tunes.
Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs captures the band as a genuine collective of musicians not only at the top of their game, but enjoying the moment and producing arguably, the best Eric Clapton album ever.
Tracks like I Looked Away, Anyday, Keep On Groving, Tell The Truth and Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad have long since become standards and most covered tracks of the era, while the inclusion of Jimi Hendrix’s excellent Little Wing is simply inspired.
In the context of the album, the full length version of the single Layla feels as fresh as the day it was cut, clocking in at over 7 minutes, like most of the tracks on the album that isn’t quite long enough and I found myself not wanting it to finish, much like every other song on the album.
That for me is the beauty of Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, it doesn’t rely on self indulgent guitar or drum solos but focuses on a complete band at the top of their game.
The Deluxe Edition version comes with a bonus disc featuring some of the songs recorded for a second Derek & The Dominos album that never happened and live appearance on the US tv show The Johnny Cash Show.
Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs has been blowing me away for the last week or so, it still sounds fantastic and fresh, feeling at time more like a stonking jam session to the credit of producer Tom Dowd.
Without doubt a stunning re-issue and not to be missed.
Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs is re-issued today, Monday March 29th in the following collectors formats:
1. Single Disc Version CD
2. 2CD Deluxe Edition
3. 4CD/DVD/2LP Super Deluxe Edition
5. 2LP Vinyl Release
6. iTunes LP
7. 7inch vinyl single ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While’ b/w ‘Layla’