This album is without a doubt my favourite record, I love it. Derek and the Dominos were a short lived blues/rock band who were formed in 1970 by Eric Clapton and three fantastic American musicians that he met while touring with Delaney & Bonnie. They were Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. The chemistry between these guys is apparent from the first track and doesn’t let up at all throughout the entire album.
Recorded in Miami during August and September 1970, Duane Allman joined the group in the studio to contribute guitar parts to every song apart from the first three. Allman’s input pulled the band together even more, and the duelling between Clapton and Allman on tracks like ‘Key To The Highway’ and ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ are some of the best guitar parts you’ll ever hear.
- I Looked Away
- Bell Bottom Blues
- Keep On Growing
- Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
- I Am Yours
- Key To The Highway
- Tell The Truth
- Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?
- Have You Ever Loved A Woman
- Little Wing
- It’s Too Late
- Thorn Tree In The Garden
‘I Looked Away’, ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ and ‘Keep On Growing’ are the three tracks that the band recorded before they were joined by Allman. The musicianship on each of the tracks is outstanding. Four fantastic musicians coming together and making music this good just doesn’t happen any more. ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ was one of the songs on the album that was written by Clapton for Pattie Boyd and he pours his heart out in his playing and singing. ‘I Am Yours’ and ‘Thorn Tree In The Garden’ are the two acoustic tracks on the album, both originals. These tracks really show the versatility of the band and show they aren’t just an electric outfit.
‘Anyday’ is my favourite track on the album and features fantastic lyrics and great guitar playing by Clapton. Whitlock takes a verse in this song and shows he isn’t just a backing singer and that he can hold his own. ‘Key To The Highway’ and ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ are absolutely fantastic, you’ll be hard to find any other tracks recorded by any other band that sound as good as these two. The guitar playing between Clapton and Allman is unbelievable and the rest of the band seem happy to just sit back and let these two guitar giants jam it out.
‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’ and ‘It’s Too Late’ are two more covers that feature on the album, and they’re just as good as everything else. ‘Little Wing’ is a Hendrix cover which was recorded not long before his death so they put it on the album as a tribute and it’s a great rendition, they really make it their own. ‘Tell The Truth’ and ‘Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?’ are two more originals by the band that Clapton and Whitlock had written while Whitlock stayed at Clapton’s house in Surrey. ‘Layla’ is the title track, and I don’t need to mention much about it as everyone knows this track. The opening riff is played by Allman who took it from an Albert King vocal line. The song features some of the most painful lyrics ever sung and really shows how much emotion is in the song with Clapton playing fantastic guitar lines throughout. This song is another on the album that was intended for Pattie Boyd.
The second disc features a lot of previously unheard material including performances on the Johnny Cash Show, original Phil Spector mix of ‘Tell The Truth’ with b-side ‘Roll It Over’ and numerous tracks intended for the bands second album which was unfortunately never completed.
- Mean Old World
- Roll It Over
- Tell The Truth (original Phil Spector version)
- It’s Too Late (Live for The Johnny Cash Show version)
- Got To Get Better In A Little While (Live for The Johnny Cash Show version)
- Matchbox (Live for The Johnny Cash Show version)
- Blues Power (Live for The Johnny Cash Show version)
- Snake Lake Blues
- Mean Old Frisco
- One More Chance
- Got To Get Better In A Little While (jam)
- Got To Get Better In A Little While
The album has just been released as a 40th Anniversary special edition and I seriously recommend you get it. The two tracklistings above are only two of the five CD’s in the ‘Super Deluxe’ edition box set. CD’s 3 and 4 contain remastered recordings of the bands gig at Fillmore East in 1970 and the final CD is actually a DVD with the entire original album in 5:1 Dolby Surround Sound. The Super Deluxe also comes with the album on vinyl LP’s, a hardback book covering the bands history, a ‘Derek is Eric’ badge, Fender Stratocaster pick guard stickers, a unique Layla art print and three replica concert tickets from 1970. It’s magnificent and well worth the £100 price tag.
But the album is also being re-released in other formats. There’s a two CD ‘Deluxe’ edition and a vinyl edition. Whichever you choose to go for one thing is for sure. You won’t be disappointed.