#226: Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek & The Dominos
Derek & The Dominos, or as they’re also popularly known, “Eric Clapton’s Other Band,” was a group that I initially struggled to relate to. I’ve never been a Clapton fan, per se, especially in light of his penchant for saying stupid shit. But more than that, I just didn’t connect with his music.
My main source of classic rock growing up was a local radio station, and they played “Layla” fairly often, so that was the only Clapton song I knew for a long time. Which is kind of hilarious when you consider that the Dominos were Clapton’s response to being “tired of stardom,” according to the RS blurb.
We’ve seen Eric Clapton already at Review #170, Disraeli Gears by Cream. I think Cream did a better job of editing themselves down than the Dominos. Or maybe the unfortunate truth is that I’m not as big a fan of jam bands and long guitar solos as I thought I was. For instance, “Key To The Highway” is a great blues track that lasts about six minutes too long, at least to me.
But digging into the story behind the album made it much more interesting, of course. Did you know that Duane Allman plays on 11 of these songs, including “Layla”? “Layla,” by the way, sits all the way at the end of the album, after several ten-minute-long 12-bar blues tracks. I kept forgetting about “Layla,” so by the time the opening guitar licks plays, I was extra excited. It’s such a banger!
Allman & Clapton can be heard duetting on songs like “Keep On Growing” and “Anyday,” two of my personal favorites simply because of their shouty choruses. In fact, some of these Assorted Love Songs aren’t love songs at all. “Tell The Truth” doesn’t sound like a love song to me, with the badass line The whole world is shaking now/I can feel it, and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” definitely falls outside the realm of love.
But “I Am Yours,” which has some truly Beatles-esque harmonies, is (of course) a love song. “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” has a deceptive title — it’s got the speediest, most joyful solo on the album.
In the end, Eric Clapton’s Other Band put me in my place and forced me to enjoy them. The blues formula still works.
One last fast fact before we leave Layla behind: drummer Jim Gordon is in prison for killing his mother. Worth noting that he had undiagnosed schizophrenia.
Other Highlights: The handy melody of “I Looked Away.” The way Clapton delivers the line I don’t wanna fade away in “Bell Bottom Blues.” “Thorn Tree In The Garden” is a surprisingly quiet and beautiful closer written by lead singer Bobby Whitlock.
IS RS FULL OF IT? Yes.