Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs: Clapton’s Magnum Opus

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Eric Clapton is lunatic on three counts:

  1. For playing his guitar as if the chords were strung to his own damnable soul.
  2. For using the name of Derek and the Dominos to cover his tracks.
  3. For creating one of the. Best. Freaking. Love. Albums. Of. All. Time. For the wife of his friend and ex-Beatle, George Harrison.

Yes, Derek and Dominos includes the talents of keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle, drummer Jim Gordon and features the legendary Duane Allman on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

But this album is Clapton’s. To think otherwise is folly.

For 77 minutes, Clapton’s alchemical guitar work is at its absolute peak as he explores themes of unrequited love, singing, playing and pleading to find a way to Layla’s heart.

On “I Looked Away” he lays all his cards down:

“And if it seemed a sin
To love another man’s woman, baby
I guess I’ll keep on sinning,
Loving her, lord, till my very last day.”

And that’s only cut one.

Layla bursts with seminal moments for Clapton: from “Bell Bottom Blues” to a righteous cover of “Little Wing,” the list goes on until the biggie: “Layla.”

On “Layla,” Clapton and Allman trade licks that jump-start Camaros. By two minutes in, “Layla’s” already “got me on my knees.” And by three minutes, in the depths of Clapton’s misery, Whitlock begins a soaring piano coda of beautiful consummation.

If ever there were music to show a woman how much a man could love her, “Layla” is it.

The only existing problem for Layla is the listener’s tastes. Otherwise, it isn’t good because of 46 years of dogma, it’s good because it transmutes lyric, song and pain into a golden testament to the lengths of love and the blues.

Grade: A

Producer(s): Tom Dowd, Derek and the Dominos

Track Listing:

  1. “I Looked Away”
  2. “Bell Bottom Blues”
  3. “Keep On Growing”
  4. “Nobody Knows When You’re Down And Out”
  5. “I Am Yours”
  6. “Anyday”
  7. “Key To The Highway”
  8. “Tell The Truth”
  9. “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?”
  10. “Have You Ever Loved A Woman?”
  11. “Little Wing”
  12. “It’s Too Late”
  13. “Layla”
  14. “Thorn Tree In The Garden”

 

 

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