[ Polydor Records LP / 2 LP ]
In the world of rock there are recordings that truly resonate in historical importance and continue to cast an enduring shadow of influence. 'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs' is one of the most steadfastly revered musical treasures of its era. Its famous title track is still hailed as an essential rock guitar anthem, a signature tune of rock's leading guitar hero, Eric Clapton.
Recorded in 1970 by Derek and the Dominos, the group was comprised of Clapton and top American musicians Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs music offers a timeless blend of rock, electric blues and Southern gospel influences that has shaped generations of roots-oriented musicians.
Derek and the Dominos came together at a very special time and place, riding a late '60s wave of interest in roots music and blues-based rock and roll. In 1969, Clapton found inspiration playing in the loose, family-like structure of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, an American, R&B-influenced entourage whose 1969 U.K. tour hit the British music scene with seismic proportion.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek, spontaneously chosen name, Derek and the Dominos represented a sincere effort to recreate the friendly, leaderless vibe and easy, groove-driven sound Clapton had enjoyed in '69. The foursome originally featured Delaney and Bonnie's rhythm section, keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon, plus Clapton on vocals and guitars. They first came together in late spring of 1970, developing their sound while performing on George Harrison's breakthrough solo album, 'All Things Must Pass' (their studio jams pushed the album to a three-disc package.) That June, Derek and the Dominos premiered publicly in London. By August they began recording their debut album at Criteria Studios in Miami, with legendary producer Tom Dowd in the control room.
'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs', the double-album that Derek and the Dominos recorded over the next 6 weeks showcased the creative singing and songwriting axis formed by Clapton and the Memphis-born Bobby Whitlock, who had grown up around the city's legendary Stax Studios. The confluence of their respective experiences, British blues-rock and Southern American R&B, generated a number of gospel-inflected tunes that featured their intertwined voices harmonizing much in the fashion of a rock-world Sam & Dave, and are among the most representative and covered tunes of that era: "Anyday," "Keep On Growing," "Tell the Truth," "I Looked Away" and "Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad."
The sessions also saw the rare coming together of Clapton and Duane Allman: two blues-rock specialists from different sides of the Atlantic. That happened when the Allman Brothers Band, then just breaking into mainstream popularity, performed in Miami on the second night of the recording sessions. The musical encounter resulted in a night full of studio jams, followed by the inclusion of Allman's guitar on most of the album, including standout duels on such blues numbers as "Key To The Highway" and "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?" and the double slide-guitar workout that defines the famous piano coda section of "Layla." Allman died only a few months later in a motorcycle accident.
Clapton's profound adoration of the American blues tradition, in all of its forms and styles, is one of the most prominent threads in the musical tapestry that is Layla and Other Love Songs. His choice of blues-based tunes to cover on the album stretches from "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" (made famous by Bessie Smith in 1923) and "Key to the Highway" (associated with Big Bill Broonzy, from 1940) to Chuck Willis's plaintive R&B ballad "It's Too Late" (1956), Freddie King's "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (1960), and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" (1967).
'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs' achieved gold-album status within months of its release in late 1970, was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000, and today remains a ubiquitous entry in various "Top 100" and "All-Time Greatest" polls, and "Must Hear" lists.
I Looked Away 3:06
Bell Bottom Blues 5:05
Keep On Growing 6:23
Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out 4:58
I Am Yours 3:35
Key To the Highway 9:38
Tell the Truth 6:40
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? 4:43
Have You Ever Loved a Woman? 6:54
Little Wing 5:33
It's Too Late 3:51
Thorn Tree In the Garden 2:51