And so it came to pass, so soon after the passing of Jimi Hendrix, that two of the greatest living guitarists, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, would release their greatest works, All Things Must Pass and Layla. In a strange coincidence, both albums featured the same core players—Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon. In an even stranger coincidence, Clapton’s album was (secretly) dedicated to Harrison’s wife, the former (and future) Pattie Boyd. With romance, intrigue and a beknighted Beatle in the mix, Layla had all the making of Arthurian legend; and if neither All Things or Layla turned out to be the holy grail, they are nonetheless among the sacred relics of rock and roll. Layla, written with Bobby Whitlock, is a loose concept album that, at first indirectly via the Derek moniker, deals directly with Clapton’s infatuation with his famous friend’s wife. For the only time in his career, Clapton actually surpasses his work with Cream. “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues” are brilliant from beginning to end. “I Looked Away,” “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad,” “Anyday” and “Tell The Truth” belong with his better ideas over a long career. Sharing vocals with Bobby Whitlock and trading licks with Duane Allman, Clapton still manages to step forward more on this effort than his debut record with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett (which also featured Radle, Whitlock and Gordon). The similarities to George are sometimes uncanny (e.g., “I Am Yours”), although the tribute to Hendrix (“Little Wing”) simply seems canned next to the original. In between are a few blues covers that feel more like outtakes, some of them (e.g., “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”) selected as coded messages for Clapton’s feelings. Audiences initially didn’t know who Derek and The Dominos were, but they soon connected the dots, and Clapton’s “secret” love song may be the one most readily identified with him when all is said and done. Layla has since been issued in an expanded 20th anniversary edition featuring the original jams between Clapton and Allman, and an even more widely expanded 40th anniversary edition that includes alternate takes, released as The Layla Sessions.
Original 2LP Version
A1. I Looked Away (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) (3:03)
A2. Bell Bottom Blues (Eric Clapton) (5:01)
A3. Keep On Growing (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) (6:20)
A4, Nobody Knows When You’re Down And Out (Jimmie Cox) (4:56)
B1. I Am Yours (Eric Clapton/Nizami) (3:34)
B2. Anyday (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) (6:34)
B3. Key To The Highway (Charles Segar/Willie Broonzy) (9:37)
C1. Tell The Truth (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) (6:37)
C2. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) (4:41)
C3. Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Billy Myles) (6:51)
D1. Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix) (5:32)
D2. It’s Too Late (Chuck Willis) (3:48)
D3. Layla (Eric Clapton/Jim Gordon) (7:02)
D4. Thorn Tree In The Garden (Bobby Whitlock) (2:49)
Duane Allman (guitars), Eric Clapton (guitars & lead vocals), Jim Gordon (drums, percussion & piano), Carl Radle (bass & percussion), Bobby Whitlock (organ, piano, vocals & acoustic guitar) with Albee (piano & assistance). Produced & arranged by The Dominos, recordings engineered by Ron Albert, Chuck Kirkpatrick, Howie Albert, Karl Richardson & Mac Emmerman. Executive producer: Tom Dowd.
Cover painting by Frandsen de Schonberg, all got together by Bruce McCaskill.
Released on 2LP on November 9, 1970 in the UK (Polydor, 2625 005) and the US (Atco, SD-2704); reached #16 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold record).
This was re-issued soon after on 2LP as people caught wind that Eric was Derek: in 1971 in Japan (Polydor, MP-9359/60) and Mexico (Polydor, 2612 014); in 1972 in the US (Polydor, PD2-3501); in 1973 in the UK (RSO, 2671 110). It even reached #107 on the US charts again in 1974.
Then there were the usual re-issues on 2LP and sometimes cassette: in 1975 in Japan (RSO, MW-9067/8); in 1977 in the UK (RSO, SPDLP1) and the US (RSO, RS/CT-2-3801); in 1979 in Japan (RSO, MWX-9956/7 and MWU-9703/4). It also reached #183 on the US charts yet again in 1977.
In the 80s and 90s, it was released on 2LP, CD and remastered CD: in 1987 in Japan (RSO, 28MW-0050/1); in the US (Polydor, 823 277-2); in 1991 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-1151); in 1993 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-585); in the US (Polydor, P2 31820); in 1998 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-9128); in 1999 in the UK (Simply Vinyl, SVLP-107).
In the 21st century, it was released an audiophile 2LP and CD: in 2001 in Japan (Polydor, UICY-9167); in 2004 in the UK (Universal, 9818111) and Japan (Universal, UICY-9735); in 2005 in Japan (Universal, UICY-95008); in 2008 in the UK, the US and France (Universal, 5310373) and Japan (Universal, UICY-90753); in 2010 in Japan (Universal, UIGY-9023). In 2011, a 40th anniversary edition was released on audiophile 2LP, CD and expanded 2CD (with 13 bonus tracks) in the UK and the US (Universal/Polydor, 5331425/8/9) and Japan (Polydor, UICY-15015). A big boxed set featuring 2 LPs, 4 CDs and a DVD was also released in 2011 in the UK (Universal, UMC-1432). In 2013, a 2LP picture disc was released in the UK (Universal, 00600753454510).