Derek and the Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
Now everyone knows Clapton is god. He’s had a long and successful solo career, jammed alongside slews of notable rock and blues artists and ranked up plenty of hits along the way. So he’s probably my favorite rock guitarist of all time and in 1970 he was a part of what’s probably my favorite album to ever feature old slowhand Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Though Blues-Rock Supergroup Derek and the Dominos may have been a short lived venture, they sure did leave behind on hell of an album. Filled to the brim with raw bluesy jams, Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs not only spawned a legendary classic rock song in it’s title track, but also gave us a rare chance to hear such talents as Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock and the late great Duane Allman all together playing good old rock and roll at it’s finest.
Brilliant musicianship is the center piece here. Eric Clapton is in fine form working alongside Bobby Whitlock vocally as they seem to form a special camaraderie on Layla. Bassist Carl Radle and Drummer Jim Gordon are more or less the best rhythm section you could ask for and what can you say about Duane Allman? Perhaps the greatest slide player in rock history, Duane even gives Eric a run for his money, but they manage to find an appropriate middle ground to play off each other and continually deliver track after track of top notch riffs and energetic solos.
So what about the individual tracks? If you ask me they are some of the best songs Clapton and company ever been a part of. “I Looked Away” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” is blues rock perfection and “Bell Bottom Blues” is a bittersweet ballad of the best variety. Though what it all builds up to is truly unforgettable in the two part Clapton and Gordon penned rock epic “Layla”. Written about Clapton’s then-unrequited love for George Harrison’s then wife Pattie Boyd, it’s a passionate rocker, but it’s the musical content that makes this track so very special. Breaking out with a fiery riff “Layla” twists and turns through pure guitar driven intensity all the way to it’s beautiful piano progression outro written by drummer Jim Gordon.
Where Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs may lack in an overall polished sound it makes up for in brilliant musicianship and overall attitude. It’s too bad that this band was so short lived and could never really have an appropriate reunion due to Duane Allman’s death in 1971, Carl Radle’s in 1980 and Jim Gordon’s mental breakdown in 1983 leading to the murder of his mother and imprisonment. Kind of puts a sad spin on the legacy of Derek and the Dominos but if anything we should be thankful for the amazing music they contributed to the genre in such a short amount of time.
Favorite Tracks: “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Keep on Growing”, “Layla”