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Derek and the Dominos – Layla and other assorted love songs (1970)

June 2, 2012

[Album 57/1001]

Guidance I give my students when writing an essay: if nothing else, start strong and finish strong.  A solid introduction and conclusion can hide a lot of flaws in between.

This philosophy also applies to athletes (strong pre-season = make the team, strong post-season = invited back next year) and was employed effectively in the only studio album released by Derek and the Dominos.

If the band name is unfamiliar, the central musician is likely not.  Vocals here are provided by the guitarist better known as Slowhand, three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Eric Clapton. 

The record starts off brilliantly, the first three tracks in particular.  The mid-album tracks venture into relatively generic blues numbers but because of the terrific start, listeners will patiently wait to see if the band can reclaim some of that early momentum.

Listener patience is more than rewarded with the last four tracks.  Little Wing is a well-executed Jimi Hendrix cover; It’s Too Late and Thorn Tree in the Garden sandwich the title track nicely.

Layla.  If there’s a more memorable song about unrequited love, I have yet to hear it. 
– The familiar story: Boy (Eric Clapton) is in love with his friend (George Harrison)’s girl (Pattie Boyd)
– The iconic intro riff 
– A distinct Part A/Part B spilled out over 7 minutes
– Despite Clapton’s wizardry on the guitar, it is another guitarist’s work that almost steals the show.  Duane Allman’s slide guitar contributions (particularly in the second half of the song) are essential.
– When Clapton revisited this song on 1992’s Unplugged, instead of merely playing a watered-down acoustic version, the new take became another masterpiece.

Which made me want to play this album again, where upon hearing the first few tunes I thought, hey what a great opening sequence…

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From → 1970s

3 Comments
  1. The twist on the theme of unrequited love is, of course, that Slowhand (I wonder if that applies to just his guitar playing) got Pattie and later married her, apparently with George’s approval (now that’s what I call a friend!).

  2. One of my all-time favorites. Thanks :).

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