The secretive side project stemming from Eric Clapton; wanting to escape the fame of his previous projects both Cream and Blind Faith joined hands with some of the strongest names in music at the time.
Artists like George Harrison whose wife was the main inspiration for the band and writing style, Bobby Whitlock is on keyboards and backing vocals. There was also Carl Radle on the bass that trailed with Jim Gordon on the percussion and quite possibly the most important keyboard solo in rock history.
The simple four-set became partners with Duane Allman of Allman Brothers fortune as well as who was an occasional member for recording and live performance which also included Dave Mason who has now played with nearly every successful recording artist under the pop sun.
Collectively, Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs is a well-versed and varied project. With pieces that open the record “I Looked Away” pens Derek & The Dominos as a sunken and broken love story. The guitar work from Clapton is nothing short of exceptional, but attached are some of his most impactful styles of writing.
He illustrates, “She took my hand and tried to make me understand that she would always be there. But I looked away and she ran away from me today, I’m such a lonely man.” As the instrumentation begins to grow more lively and progressive in stature, Derek And The Dominos use this time to begin snatching further into the heartstrings.
Describing, “And if it seemed a sin to love another man’s woman, I guess I’ll keep on sinning. Loving her, lord, to my very last day.” The backstory of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs stems from this deceitful love triangle between Clapton, Harrison, and Harrison’s then-wife, Pattie Boyd.
While the subject matter becomes an entangled mess of a situation, the music that branches from that unobtainable love at the time is dated to be Clapton’s most emotional and intricate of his career.
Having been surrounded by a plethora of resources for outstanding instrumentalists, pieces like “Keep On Growing,” or the electric standout “Anyday” forces the audience to see the talent here. Not only is Clapton a truly comfortable leading guitarist and vocalist, but Derek And The Dominos highlights some of the articulation from Whitlock especially on the backing keys.
The somewhat title track “Layla” which comes in at number 13 on the tracklisting is easily the strongest collection of sound on Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. Between the songwriting and the pain that Clapton can describe through his execution, the instrumentation is astounding. It quickly shines to not only create a shattered web of memories; then through sheer either coincidence or tonality. The middle segue of the track uses this dramatic and frankly angelic piano played by Gordon. It becomes not only the perfect ending cap to a fantastic rock performance but ushers in a graceful stop to the madness.
As emotions rage throughout the record, it is impossible not to hear Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs and feel an uneasiness about it. The entire album was written and dedicated to loving another woman that’s essentially married to your best friend and colleague. While that uneasiness subsides at some point, “Layla” survives as one of the most iconic pieces of sonic performance.