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Derek & the Dominos: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs: The 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

Doug Collette By

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Derek & The Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs: The 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is a valiant attempt to compile a definitive version of Eric Clapton's finest work. The package of two CDs collects studio rarities from early and late in the band's career, as well as previously unreleased television performances, remastered in punchy clarity. If this 2011 package is not truly all- encompassing, that's in part because such brilliant pieces of work resist redefinition, except as they occur when successive generations rediscover the art.

Eric Clapton's integration of the blues into this deeply heartfelt fourteen-song cycle created a personal statement made even more unique through the chemistry he developed with guitarist Duane Allman. As depicted in Ashley Kahn's liner note essay, the founder of Allman Brothers Band brought a camaraderie to the band lacking in the initial sessions, and though the controversy over whether the album sequencing matches the chronology of the recording, it's nevertheless worth noting that Allman is not present until "Nobody Knows you Till You're Down and Out," a slow blues whereupon the intensity of the musicianship escalates to a level far beyond the mere pleasantries of "I Looked Away," "Bell Bottom Blues," and "Keep On Growing."

Kahn's wide-ranging chronicle is also significant for its depiction of how Clapton and his band cut their teeth as an ensemble playing on George Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass (Apple, 1970). This in turn led to The Dominos' first recordings being produced by Phil Spector (as was Harrison's album), but these up-tempo versions of "Tell the Truth" and "Roll It Over" are less illustrative than The Johnny Cash Show recordings, or even the half-dozen studio tracks from the aborted sessions for the second Dominos album, that Clapton had a found the economy and understatement he'd sought since the dissolution of Cream in 1968.

Yet the virtues of the group—bassist Carl Radle, drummer Jim Gordon and keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Bobby Whitlock, all of whom Clapton hired from Delaney & Bonnie's band following the recording and release of his eponymous debut album—remained, as they reached a higher level of chemistry altogether with Duane Allman in tow. Accordingly, the one element lacking from this landmark edition is a further record of the late Southern rock icon's participation. His fiery playing on the album sessions, during Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," for instance, inspired Clapton to levels he's rarely attained since then.

Refusing to officially join the band at the time, since The Allman Brothers was just beginning to gain widespread notice, Allman did nonetheless guest with Derek and The Dominos for two gigs within their otherwise very limited touring. It behooves Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band and their respective organizations to locate those concert recordings and prepare them for release, because it's be safe to say that, until then, further revisiting of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs will still fall tantalizingly short of telling the whole story of this magnificent album

Track Listing: CD1: I Looked Away; Bell Bottom Blues; Keep On Growing; Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out; I Am Yours; Anyday; 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; Layla; Thorn Tree in the Garden. CD2: Mean Old World; Roll It Over; Tell the Truth; It's Too Late; Got To Get Better In A Little While; Matchbox; Blues Power; Snake Lake Blues; Evil; Mean Old Frisco; One More Chance ; Got To Get Better in a Little While (jam); Got To Get Better In A Little While.

Personnel: Eric Clapton: guitars, lead vocals; Bobby Whitlock: organ, piano, vocals, acoustic guitar; JIim Gordon: drums, percussion, piano; Carl Radle: bass, percussion; Duane Allman: guitars; Albhy Galuten: piano.

Title: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs: The 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Universal Music Group

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