Eric Clapton assembled this band together shortly after a few stints with different bands, such as Blind Faith after he left the supergroup Cream. He recruited such greats as Duane Allman on slide guitar here. Although the group only created this one double album, it is a great album to hear. Ironically, it was directly inspired by Eric Clapton’s love for George Harrison’s then wife, Patti Boyd. A bit of an odd situation, really. Still, let’s dive into the music here, and see if it sounds as good as it is regarded to be.
We begin with I Looked Away which has a clean Fender Stratocaster sound, some beautiful organ in the background, slide guitar and romanticism. Eric Clapton is singing very well here, and the music is well thought out and crafted here. There is a great bluesy rock and roll sensibility here, something which is not heard on the radio today. It has a very late 1960s/early 1970s vibe, which is pretty cool too.
Next is Bell Bottom Blues which has a laidback, arpeggio style riff and talks deeply about love based subjects. The chorus and the backing vocals here are very uplifting. A great sense of musicality and professionalism is on this album. A great listen as well. The guitar solo phrasing is brilliant here too. Refreshing listening, not bad for an old school rock record, this is brilliant.
Keep On Growing comes next and starts off with some basic chugging guitar riffs and very 1970s instrumentation, before going into an awesome almost rock jam piece. There is a call-and-response piece here as well, sounding really good here in its direct sound. A catchy and well played piece to kick off the 1970s. The guitar solos here are excellent quality, too. There is a great Los Angeles/Miami feel about this music on this album, making it even more exciting and interesting than you’d expect. Great tune. The extended jam at the end is fantastic.
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out comes next, and is about being heartbroken. It’s a straightforward rock piece that sounds beautiful, wonderful and brilliant, all wrapped in one. It’s a slower tempo, but Eric Clapton sings his heart out. He sounds very much like the guitar god he always wished to be here, playing with pure emotion. Brilliant, great stuff here. It ends in a very blues oriented way.
Next is I Am Yours which has some unusual arrangements in the song, including slide guitar and Indian sounding drums. Still, it’s another slide of musical pure romanticism here. A very good listen here, refreshing and interesting, which is always a must with music. The performance here is very good overall, nice effort.
Following is the loud and powerful sounding Anyday which is a really excellent listening experience, as is the rest of the album. It looks forward to a life filled with love and optimism. The drumming here deserves recognition, without being too boring or busy as a general playing experience. More call-and-response vocals are here, all in all, excellent to hear. There is a very Abbey Road sort of sound going on this album, but delivered in an original, Eric Clapton way. Brilliant.
Key To The Highway comes along as a bluesy, stomp piece which is very enjoyable listening. There are no vocals here at the start, just instrumental brilliance by all members of Derek and the Dominos. It’s catchy and danceable, with some well arranged instrumentation to listen to. Eric Clapton starts singing, and brings the band right behind him in a direct nod to the blues that made Eric Clapton get into music in the first place. Great stuff. Simply beautiful. The slide guitars here are just gorgeous. If you can play this in the car while driving, you can hear why it sounds good for such a purpose. Mind-blowing, it is that good.
Tell The Truth has a strange intro, before heading into familiar blues rock territory for Eric Clapton. It’s still a great listen, as is the rest of the album. There is a great amount of interplay between all elements of the music at hand here. Another great song, and all the songs here fit like a glove. There is a very Jimi Hendrix sort of feel here in the guitar parts, particularly the solos. A great piece of old time rock and roll. Very much a jam based piece, it still sounds wonderful today.
Next is Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? which starts off with a fast tempo riff, before the rest of the band quickly follow. It’s fairly poppy, and is very fast paced. Obviously Eric Clapton was thinking about the matters of his life constantly, as the music here indicates. A slightly unusual number, but still very good to listen to. Some unusual use of odd musical scales are here in the playing as well. Forget the Top 50 today, this is great music here. The ending is very gentle.
Following is Have You Ever Loved A Woman? which is a great jam based piece to begin with, before diving into a very blues oriented piece by Derek and the Dominos. It sounds really awesome, and Eric Clapton delivers musically and lyrically a fine song, and a piece of art. It still sounds fresh and inspired today, with a subtle lyrical reference to Eric Clapton’s own personal love life dilemma. Great listening, all the same. The guitar solo playing sounds almost like a harmonica at times here, which is quite interesting. Jazz based piano is in the background as well. The outro is stunning.
Little Wing is a cover of a Jimi Hendrix song. This version does sound different for sure compared to the original, more uplifting, yet less emphasis on the psychedelia here. It just goes to show how aware musically both Clapton and Hendrix were. Both were brilliant musicians of their time, and both held each other in high regard for that reason. Great cover, and a nice ode to Jimi Hendrix. Although Jimi Hendrix is often thought of as the greatest guitarist of all time, this is proof that there were other greats as well. Live forever, gents.
It’s Too Late is another solid number to hear on this recording. Even though it is considered a lesser number here, it is just as good as the other songs here on this album. It’s clearly about losing a love that is important to oneself, with a plea for it not to end. The guitar solo here is very expressive, a nice bit of slide work by Duane Allman. A good and simple blues based number, great music is here, once again.
The title track Layla begins with a fantastic riff and leads into the song about loving said woman mentioned at the review. Despite that strange story, it’s a direct plea for love and companionship in one’s life. Eric Clapton really sings his heart out here, and delivers a career highlight in a musical sense. There are some great guitar parts throughout, an awesome and very listenable experience. It then goes into a second section with a beautiful piano part, which is an instrumental. A nice addition to a classic song here, it demands listening. Great music from great musicians, it’s a joy for all. There are some beautiful plucked acoustic guitar parts here as well. A feel good piece of music. It ends wonderfully.
Lastly, we have Thorn Tree In The Garden which is a simple song delivered primarily acoustically about a true love. Very nice, and a great way to finish off this wonderful album. The lyrics are romantic and impressionistic. Great to hear such a song. Very quiet.
This album is very, very good. In fact, it is considered Eric Clapton’s best album ever. For that reason, and the fact that it is a rock classic, means you must seek this album whenever you can and give it a listen. Although it is lengthy, the music here is sweeping and beautiful. Great music, a must listen.