“Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” – Derek and the Dominos (1970) [english]

Sometimes time travel is good for me and what better time than the ’60s and ’70s to talk about quality music? The period from the mid-60s until the early 70s was one of the most revolutionary and convulsive in the history of music. Years that saw the birth and death of some of the most influential artists in the music world. It’s 1970, a year in which there are three of the most magical guitarists who have ever played a six-string guitar: Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman. For a very short time, unfortunately, because Jimi would have left us in September, but a period that we wish we had lived. The magic was in the streets of London, New York, San Francisco, but also in those of Georgia, where a boy named Duane with his brother Gregg (Allman) and their band were already amazing the world and soon they would play and record one of the most beautiful rock concerts ever (at Fillmore East, March 1971). Here in this blender of emotions, concerts and unforgettable records, Mr Eric Clapton was considered as “God on earth”. But he was restless, suffering and never satisfied with himself despite having already written incredible pages of musical history, helping to found and make famous with his magical guitar Cream, the Yardbirds and even the group of John Mayall the Bluesbreakers. Instead, he looked at himself and never liked each other. His devastated soul had led him on the road to the abyss, from which he recovered, with difficulty, years later. But in that 1970, after having just dissolved Cream, after having founded and dissolved after one album the excellent Blind Faith, he had many ideas, many lyrics, many solos that ran through his head and the live collaboration with the duo Delaney & Bonnie was the spark that allowed him to make his debut solo eponymous, just at the beginning of that year. Not a masterpiece, actually, with several interesting ideas, but not heterogeneous. Perhaps the result of his well-established addiction to drugs caused also by the love disappointment of not being able to be with the beloved Pattie Boyd (wife of George Harrison). In that period the case, lucky seen in retrospect, wanted the band supporting Delaney & Bonnie, was unhappy and wanted to get out of it and what better meeting point for everyone than to try to play something new together? It was real joy for Clapton’s ears, always looking for stimuli to help him bring out his tormented talent. So, together with keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon, they gave life to Del and The Dominos (Clapton didn’t want to associate his name with the band for not having preconceptions from the fans and so he suggested that name). There was a rehearsal live, but fate dictated that the concert presenter, knowledgeable, stunned him in Derek and the Dominos. The new name pleased and remained as the official name of a band that worked great live. After some live shows, however, it was time to try to record something and here was the idea of moving to Miami. Certainly it was not an idea of a band that wanted to be dedicated to work and in fact between drugs, women and the sea, the inspiration was hard to take off and the whole risked to go really long. Clapton’s broken heart lyrics worked, but the songs didn’t flow as Eric hoped. But magic was about to happen, random, but true, as befits in the music stories of those years. You don’t know who and you don’t know why, but the 4 were invited to a concert by the phenomenal Allman Brothers Band, who played there and then after hearing Duane play, he had decided: he had to play with that big boy from Georgia! Duane was honored to be able to cross notes with a living legend (he was 25 years old Clapton, but that was his reputation) immediately accepted. Those recordings at Criteria Studios in Miami were pure, unrepeatable and exciting magic. Duane Allman’s slide and fingerpicking were the perfect musical icing for the magnificent cake that flowed from Clapton’s fingers. They seemed to be made to be together in theory, but unfortunately (or fortunately saw how it went) the artistic twin already had his family and after giving away his talent on tape, returned with the Allman Brothers Band and Derek and the Dominos who had just given birth to one of the most beautiful records of all time Layla and the Other Assorted Love Songs, they were about to melt because you know the magic never lasts more than a magic powder shine. No live with Duane, but the 14 songs that gave us sound still fresh, innovative, inspiring and still know how to excite the hearts as if they had just come out. The lyrics were certainly not very cheerful, but still filtered the hope that love would win and he could love his Pattie. The difference was made by the music and already from the opener I Looked Away, a sunny and light song, you understand that the class of Slow Hand is crystal clear and that the blues is his bread. Bell Bottom Blues is the slow and persuasive face, dragged by the blues, while the next Keep On Growing is the bustling one, inspired by the beaches of Florida, a wonderful piece with sharp and dragging guitar riffs. Whitlock’s voice intersects perfectly with Clapton’s. From track number 4 onwards begins the presence to the other guitar of Duane Allman and if up here you touched the sky, here you can see the stars and just get to the cover Key To The Highway (song by Big Bill Broonzy) to feel the scent of that magic. In practice a jam session in freedom that gives us unforgettable moments. Long, very long, but you wish it would never end, as well as the collaboration between these two artists lasted the space of a breath of magic dust. Tell The Truth could very well be cited as one of the first southern rock songs, dragged, exciting, with that slide that tastes of swamp, braided guitars as well as in the subsequent unleashed Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? Here the rhythm is sustained and the magic guitar of Duane Allman from almost a lesson then assimilated by funk, helped by a rhythm section of exceptional stature. Another lap, another masterpiece. Empty passages are not provided. After the vintage blues of Have You Ever Loved a Woman? where Clapton is the host, you get to another absolute gem, a tribute that the English guitarist wanted to do to his friend Jimi Hendrix, a kind of act of love for a man who in just 4 years had turned the world of music like a sock and who indirectly contributed to the frantic search for novelty and perfection of Eric, bringing him to the brink of the end. The song is Little Wing, probably the cover should be cited as one of the most beautiful ever performed. Hendrix’s song is distorted, it is a tribute, but personal and therefore more appreciable. No one imitates the Left-Hand of Seattle, not even in the song where Whitlock and Clapton give suffering and shouting, that loving suffering that came from inside, but it is in the guitar part that you reach the stars, a place where no one could reach Hendrix except Duane Allman. Those notes are there between Pegasus and the North Star, not even Clapton could succeed and in fact leaves the proscenium to the companion, who guides us beyond what is human, touches the soul even if it remains the regret of never having been able to make her listen to Jimi, who died before the release of this record. It’s Too Late serves to bring the whole band back to Earth, to make us believe that it’s all true, it’s a light blues, but scratchy that serves as a trailblazer to the umpteenth immortal song, to the riff that along with that of Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin, will mark the path of rock and roll, the title track Layla. A riff so sharp, a blues with a dirty soul and rock that the chanted and suffered of Clapton lead to levels of magic never heard. You can almost hear him crying while he sings and we cry with happiness to hear these two guitars so magical intertwine and chase each other in one of the most beautiful rock songs in history. The album that should be on display at the British Museum closes with Brad Whitlock playing and singing Thorn in the Garden, a delicate and elegant acoustic track perfect conclusion of a record of a class and a magic that rarely have reached in the world of music such peaks of perfection. At the release, being without any reference to the two leading names and without any promotion, it was unsuccessful and was not considered until Eric Clapton decided to say that Derek was him. However, the album was considered a commercial half-flop and did not even serve the purpose of convincing Pattie Boyd to stay with him. The woman struck and flattered by the disc did not have the courage to make the step, it was not yet the right time. Over the years the reputation of the record has grown and now we can certainly say that it is a masterpiece and in Clapton’s discography is undoubtedly one of the first if not the first in quality and magic. There are times when the stars align and the magic flows like water and this record is undoubtedly the result of such a moment. Over the years there have been two commemorative editions that we absolutely recommend to make yours : the edition of the 20th Anniversary released in 1990 that contains some jam sessions with Duane Allman to leave you speechless and the edition of the 40th Anniversary released in 2010 with outtakes and some live goodies that deserved to be on the B side of that wonderful disk. There are indispensable works if one wants to understand the music and as far as the genius of men has gone to enrich this art : here is Layla and the Other Assorted Love Songs is certainly part of this small number of works thanks to two immortal artists.

Good listening,

Trex Willer by http://www.ticinonotizie.it

(you can find original italian article at this link : https://www.ticinonotizie.it/derek-and-the-dominos-layla-and-other-assorted-love-songs-1970-by-trex-roads/ )

Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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