Friday, April 22, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: LAYLA DELUXE EDITION
A hugely popular album, but how often do we play it? Everybody knows Layla, lots more know and love the equally emotional Bell Bottom Blues. Now, without looking, name a couple of more songs on it. Having trouble? Well, there's a pretty good cover of Hendrix's Little Wing, an odd closer by Bobby Whitlock called Thorn Tree In The Garden, and then some blues numbers and minor Clapton compositions fill out this double-disc. Really, its iconic status rests on the title cut and the fact Duane Allman hung around to play on most of the cuts.
So, the thing is alright, but is probably one of those discs that would have been better as a single album. The rest of the cuts are truly quite different than Layla and Bell Bottom Blues, so it's evidence of a band that never gelled. Clapton was drifting into heroin addiction, there were lots of other demons lurking behind the group, and what should have been a promising future ended quickly. The same five tracks recorded for the canceled second album that first surfaced on the Clapton Crossroads boxed set are here on disc two's bonus cuts, but what's missing is context. There are no - NO - liner notes on this purported Deluxe edition of the disc. Nothing? No words on how Allman ended up guesting but was never a real member of the band. No explanation of why the second album died. We don't even get the famous Clapton-Harrison-Patti Boyd love triangle story that inspired Layla. Quit cheaping out you buggers!
I guess it's because there's also a five-CD, 2 LP, REALLY deluxe version of the album out now too, and it has a big booklet plus the live Fillmore East concert and more stuff in it. So, we only get notes if we pay over a hundred bucks? I'm bummed here, because many of us still picking up physical CD's and albums is that we want the whole experience, including notes. The new Leon Russell best-of didn't have any notes either, not even what album the cuts were from. Let's hope this trend doesn't continue. It's too band, because the other bonus cuts on disc two are excellent, including the entire band appearance on the Johnny Cash TV show, with an interview, the band just blazing, playing unreleased stuff, Eric solo material, even Matchbox with Carl Perkins. Now that's a great bonus set. There's the non-LP, Phil Spector-produced first single for the band, too. Yes, this is a worthy purchase for sure. Send me an email, I'll write you some notes for it, no charge.