Derek & The Dominos Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
" Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs "
Polydor-Universal Music

These classic sessions with Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and Jim Gordon should be a treasure trove by rockers at the top of their game, right?Think again. Robert Putignano asks, "Where’s the beef?"- Don Wilcock editor

Rating 6

Come On Already!

This fortieth anniversary deluxe edition is nothing to get excited about. It includes two CDs. The first disc is the original Layla recording, the second "bonus disc" contains alternate takes from the Layla sessions, Phil Spector-produced singles, tracks from the Johnny Cash TV show, the ill-fated 1971 Dominos sessions for the second album that never came to fruition. And now we know why!

Layla is arguably Clapton's best recording which is (once again) offered in its entirety here, and unremarkably remixed. So the bonus disc should have been what this edition was all about. Unfortunately it is not.

So let's focus on Disc Two. Walter Jacobs' "Mean Old World" is performed acoustically in a trio format with Clapton, Duane Allman, and Jim Gordon on drums. It's just okay, and the only inclusion produced by the great Tom Dowd, and the only song with Duane. "Roll It Over" is interesting in that it was recorded at Abbey Road Studios during the All Things Must Pass sessions with Phil Spector producing with the Dominos rhythm section, plus George Harrison's and Dave Mason's guitars, also recorded on the same day sans Harrison and Mason.

There's a different and much more high-paced version of "Tell The Truth." Both of these versions won't stay in your ears or brain. The sound quality is also very thin. These two tracks were supposedly offered as an A- and B-side single. And talking about thin sound - the four tunes taken from the Johnny Cash fall of 1970 TV show are better sounding than the Abbey Road sessions, but aren't sonically special.

Cash introduces the entire band as "The Dominos" who waltz into a mundane "It's Too Late." "Got To Get Better In a Little While" finds the band in a more percolating mode, but for a better version check out the Dominos Live at the Fillmore box set, which is hair-raising and surprisingly funky. Cash and Carl Perkins join the Dominos for a version of "Matchbox" and the Leon Russell-Clapton "Blues Power." The latter is the better of the two, but is performed a bit sloppily.

The remaining six tunes were taken from the April-May 1971 Dominos sessions recorded at Olympic Studios in London and produced by Derek and the Dominos. Why Tom Dowd wasn't retained is beyond my comprehension, especially considering the wild success of the previous Layla album. "Snake Lake Blues," authored by Bobby Whitlock and Clapton, is a gorgeous blues ballad instrumental that shows promise to what might of followed on round two for the Dominos. Clapton is refreshingly tasty here. Willie Dixon's "Evil" sounds very dated and offers unusual stutter and stop segments. It's here that Clapton's guitar is overdubbed to perhaps imitate the dueling Allman-Clapton antics on "Layla," Clapton also plays some slide.

Arthur Crudup's "Mean Old Frisco" crawls and lulled me to sleep. "One More Chance," authored by Clapton, is further evidence that the Dominos magic had faded. The last two tunes are takes of E.C.'s "Got To Get Better In a Little While," first offered as a instrumental jam that's actually about three minutes shorter than the closing vocalized version, sounds like a demo that goes nowhere, and ends abruptly. Filler!

The finale take of this tune (making its third appearance on this disc) is performed slowly. Pardon me for repeating, but do check out the live version of "Got To Get Better In a Little While" from Derek & the Dominos Live at Fillmore. I promise, I will now rest my case about this!

Layla and Other Love Songs Fortieth is also offered as a Super Deluxe edition consisting of four CDs, two LPs, and a DVD, but it ain't cheap. The DVD is not a video either. It's an audio DVD and (OK, I lied) two CDs come from the previous mentioned release Derek & the Dominos Live at the Fillmore collection.

I also understand that there's liners from Ashley Kahn included on the Super Deluxe edition that are not offered here. How hard would it have been for Polydor to include a few extra pages for Kahn's usual adept narrative in this so-called "deluxe" edition? Note: A far better "Layla" representation can be found on the Twentieth Anniversary Edition, three CDs featuring two CDs of some scrumptious outtakes and jams!

In summary, this box set left me feeling cold. I often clamor and live on for these bonus discs which at times here are somewhat interesting, but for the most part it's dull. I am sure if Tom Dowd was still amongst us, he would resoundingly disapprove of this Deluxe Edition. For further evidence, see the Dowd documentary The Language of Music, readily available on DVD.

Last but not least, I know that Duane Allman sat in with the Dominos at least twice during live performances. Wouldn't it make good sense for Polydor to seek out those concert performances? I think, "Yes," as otherwise the unreleased/bonus recorded work of Derek & the Dominos is seemingly exhausted, and further editions should cease.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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