Monday, April 27, 2009

Record of the Moment: Derek and the Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

By God, I dare you to find me a more emotional moment in rock music than this part "Bell Bottom Blues":
Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you?
Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back?
I'd gladly do it because
I don't want to fade away.
Give me one more day, please.
I don't want to fade away.
In your heart I want to stay.
To put the album in perspective: you're Eric Clapton, resident blues guru.  Cream and Blind Faith didn't work out, but that's no real deal, you're highly successful, you can go solo.  Then, the worst thing happens.  You're Eric Clapton, and you fall in love.  Not a bad thing, right?  But it's not just anyone.  The girl you fall in love with is married.  Bad enough?  Nope, she's married to a Beatle.  A Beatle, man.  Can it get worse?  Yup.  She's married to George Harrison.  But guess what.  You're best fucking buddies with George Harrison.  You supplied heartrending guitar to his "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and he reciprocated by helping you write "Badge."  Yeah, things are pretty bad.  And so you take solace in an old tale involving a woman named Layla...and the album is born.

This album is a blues album, plain and simple.  The ripping blues solos, the slow grooves and the fast-paced boogies, they're all here.  Wow, how it grooves, boogies, and how it just "feels" like crazy.  The rumor is that Eric Clapton wanted to be in the Band so bad, and it shows.  The songs sit loose, and it does wonders compared to the airtight production that has recently made Clapton's efforts almost lifeless.  Finally, Clapton has some foils to work off of, both lyrically and musically.  Clapton is normally genius enough, but he has had issues getting too carried away at times...Duane Allman and Bobby Whitlock provided brilliant foils both with the guitar work and songwriting, respectively, and the album pays off so much more thanks to them.  Many of the songs, too, reach past the five minute mark in slide-fueled jams, but they never get old, remaining fresh and worthwhile with each listen.

It has astounded me that I had never heard this album until approximately four days ago.  Of course I had heard "Layla," and of course I have thought it was a good rock tune (at some point, I could play it in some regard on the ukulele).  It had no context for me then, and now it does.  The song itself becomes a much more emotional event, but it moreover becomes part of a heart-wrenching whole.  You've got to feel so bad for someone if drugs don't even help.  But to think that Clapton poured everything out in this album is astounding.  This is an album for the ages.  I can't believe that it took so long for me to hear this album.  Shame on all of you for not making me listen to this album sooner.

With regards to regular blog business, I'll probably review the new Dylan record in detail next.  It'll be the first record I grade here.  Oh dear, right?

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