The one and only album by Derek and the Dominos. The epitome of Derek’s multi-facetted musical character yet featuring him during one of his darkest times. None of his previous bands did seem to fulfill his creative inspiration until then.
How about The Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith or Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Mr Eric Clapton? I guess you have to fail and fail until you succeed, but in my opinion there are great albums there including Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Blind Faith’s eponymous album.
Some believe that great art stems from deep struggles of the human kind. And I can certainly agree for “Layla”. Sometimes I wonder if my art needs to feed itself from extreme emotional pain to become great or meaningful. The song was inspired by Clapton’s crush on George Harrison’s wife at the time, Pattie Boyd.
“Layla” is definitely a great song but above all a composition masterpiece. The chord progression is probably one of the least prone to sound great yet it does. Not to mention the delightful ending with guest star Duane Allman’s slide guitar mastery along with a catchy melody that is easy to guess but hard to stop humming.
However, “Layla” is obviously not the only love song on this record and in fact they are all about some form of love. Jimi Hendrix’s cover “Little Wing” is especially touching for Clapton as he loses a great friend few months before paying him tribute.
Overall, the album showcases beautiful guitar harmonies and ingenious twists to blues standards. One of my favorite tracks is the destabilizing “Bell Bottom Blues” with inverted emphasis on the drum beat (the kick hits on the off-beats and the snare hits on the on-beats).
Another bluesy song off of Layla that I really enjoy is the upbeat “Keep on Growing” featuring a long coda with overdubbed guitar solos by Clapton. There is something about well-arranged codas that elevates the sonic vibrations when a listener absorbs the music, and this is the reason why you will often find myself attempting to create the same in my compositions.