Derek and the Dominos – Live at the Fillmore

Derek and the Dominos are probably one of the most underrated bands in history. They only released one studio album in 1970 called ‘Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs’ which was and still is a fantastic album. The individual members of the band first became aware of each other when Eric Clapton joined Delaney and Bonnie on tour. Carl Radle (bass), Jim Gordon (drums) and Bobby Whitlock (keys and vocals) were all members of the Delaney and Bonnie ‘family band’ until they split away to form Derek and the Dominos with Eric Clapton in the spring of 1970. The great slide guitarist Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers band joined the band in Miami to record half of their album, however he only played with them twice, and unfortunately not at this gig.

This live album consists of songs recorded at their gig at Fillmore East in October 1970. A number of tracks were originally released in 1973 on their ‘In Concert’ live album but it wasn’t until 1994 that the whole set was finally put out. The atmosphere at the gig is fantastic, and very different to what gigs are today. Long improvised jam sections are rampant which really show the artistic qualities of the musicians involved.

  1. Got To Get Better In A Little While
  2. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?
  3. Key To The Highway
  4. Blues Power
  5. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
  6. Bottle Of Red Wine
  7. Tell The Truth
  8. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  9. Roll It Over
  10. Presence Of The Lord
  11. Little Wing
  12. Let It Rain
  13. Crossroads

The set starts off with the best Derek and the Dominos song that they never released, ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While.’ At 14 minutes long it consists of just three vocal verses with the remainder being one big jam which is fantastic. Every song is like this which is rare nowadays. As well as original numbers written by the band, the set also consists of covers like the stunning ‘Key To The Highway’, ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ and ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’. These are blues standards that this band made their own, and they’re on blistering form. Other numbers include songs Clapton played with Cream (‘Crossroads’) and Blind Faith (‘Presence Of The Lord’) and songs he released on his debut solo album only a few months before, ‘Let It Rain’, ‘Bottle Of Red Wine’ and ‘Blues Power’.

‘Roll It Over’ is a b-side they released in 1970, a song that is extremely hard to find today. It’s a near 7 minute jam and the band are on fire! They also play a cover of ‘Little Wing’ which was recorded before Hendrix died, however when they played this gig it had been a month since his death and it’s been a tribute to him ever since. He never got to hear it.

The biggest cheer of the gig came at the end of a 20 minute version of ‘Let It Rain’. This is where the band really took off as the original studio recording is only 5 minutes in length. This one song really shows what a different time the band were playing in. Many people now would get bored or annoyed with a band that goes on for that long, but the audiences back then really respected the music that they were listening to. Clapton can be heard saying ‘Thank you, you’re beautiful. You’re too nice, thank you very much’ while the audience continues to applaud for minutes. They finish off the set by playing ‘Crossroads’.

What excites me about this album is how much exploring the band do musically. It’s like they’re jamming together in a room with no crowd, but the audience love it and there is total respect. Clapton at this point had been in one of the most successful bands ever with Cream, gone on to form Blind Faith and was now back in America doing what he does best.

Personally I don’t think you can beat a band that plays a song differently at every gig, no riff the same, no length the same, everything totally unpredictable and unique. And this is Derek and the Dominos all over. Cream were the same, as was Hendrix with no solo repeated twice. Music should be more like this nowadays where artists are given freedom to do what they want instead of playing the same old tune over and over again and worrying too much about what the record companies might think.

For anyone who is a lover of true, free, improvised and creative music then this live album is a must. You won’t be disappointed in the slightest.

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