Classic Rock Review: Derek & The Dominos

I think it’s time for a classic rock review.

I’ve been talking a lot about new music and don’t get me wrong, I love it! But I’ve got to give credit where credit is due, and many of my roots are in the rock ‘n’ roll of yesteryear.  Growing up, I listened to the Dire Straits, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd… pretty much anything you’d hear on a classic rock radio station.

I still very much enjoy that music, and about two years ago, I needed to do some research.  I always loved the song Layla by Eric Clapton.  Well, not exactly by Eric Clapton.  Yes, he wrote the majority of the song, sang it and played guitar on it, but he didn’t do it alone.  He had formed a band by the name of Derek and the Dominos in the very early 1970’s, after Cream disbanded.  The band also included greats such as Duane Allman and Bobby Whitlock.

I had never given much thought about what album Layla was on, just knowing it was an old Clapton tune.  As I was doing some minor research, I discovered the album that the song was recorded on, by the name of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Little did I realize that there were 13 other amazing songs on this album.

I couldn’t find this album in any stores so I ordered it on Amazon.ca and a few weeks later it was in my CD player.  From the first spin of I Looked Away, I knew this was going to be a great find.  The album flows very consistently with a lot of blues numbers (Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Key To the Highway, Have You Ever Loved a Woman) which most who know Clapton know this to be his forte.  That’s what I thought too, but he proves that he’s more than just a blues player on this album.

As much as the title indicates, Bell Bottom Blues is almost more of a ballad than a blues tune.  This was one of my favourite discoveries on this album.  Another pleasant surprise was the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece, Little Wing:  Beethoven had his 5th, Hendrix had Little Wing. Clapton was bold enough to cover it and change it up a little bit, with a change in key as well as a change in intro.  He and Bobby Whitlock harmonize beautifully with lots of emotion, raising the spirit of Little Wing from the dead (Hendrix had only been dead 3 months when this album was released).  This is an amazing tribute to Jimi, if nothing else.

Keep On Growing is a steady rocker with some great guitar work (as if that wasn’t already implied), especially for the last 2 minutes of the song.  Anyday has some great slide work from Duane Allman and Clapton alike.  Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad is another high tempo rock tune, similar to Layla, keeping the whole band on their toes.  Also, some more great guitar work!  Thorn Tree In the Garden is a song penned and sang by Bobby Whitlock, and closes out the album quite nicely with just a bit of acoustic guitar, some subtle mandolin and bass.

Layla, being the hit track on the album was written in part by Clapton, but most people don’t know that the closing 4-minute piano interlude with slide guitar solos crying over top was composed by the drummer, Jim Gordon.  Unfortunately and ironically, some 13 years after composing such a beautiful piece on the piano, Gordon’s paranoid schizophrenia consumed him and he killed his mother with a hammer.  The stark contrast of this beautiful piece on the piano and the dark, disturbing act of matricide almost gives Layla that much more of a legendary status, in my opinion.  Now you know! 😛

Unfortunately, my Eric Clapton collection isn’t large, but with what albums I do own and from what I’ve heard from his other work, I can confidently say that Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is overall, Clapton’s best work and my favourite.  As good as he was in Cream, I still prefer this album to any of Cream’s.  This may sound blasphemous to some, but it’s just my preference and opinion.

Anyone disagree? I’d love to hear your opinion!

If you haven’t heard the album, and you are a classic rock fan (or even if you’re not), I highly recommend checking it out!  Do it!

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~ by whet_hopped on June 9, 2010.

One Response to “Classic Rock Review: Derek & The Dominos”

  1. Kiddo Ive been listening to this music since it was recorded… Good to see folks playing catch up though

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