For me, the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (a bitterly sarcastic title) LP is Eric Clapton's peak, the descent after which was precipitous, no gradual decline. His raw energy is evident from the time he burst onto the British 1960s blues scene, playing with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, into the Yardbirds, the Cream, Blind Faith and then Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. But, perhaps completely inspired by the personal turmoil in his life, he hits with this one-off band, the Dominos, with a bunch of American cats left over from D&B (Bobby Whitlock et. al.), adds one of the greatest guitarists in rock & roll, Duane Allman, as a foil/partner, has the whole thing recorded by the legendary Tom Dowd in Miami and -- most importantly -- sings his ass off as if this is his last record ever.
I have never heard Clapton sing this well before or since. Almost immediately after this record, he seems to have had some sort of numbing electroshock or partial lobotomy a la One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and starts singing J.J. Cale and Bob Marley songs as if he were Perry Como fronting a bunch of the Williams Brothers in cardigan sweaters. This is the sort of passion fall-off that instigated punk rock. I mean, here is this guy who displays a steady climb of raw talent and blues soul, with this raw-nerve apotheosis of an album surveying a battlefield of romantic devastation.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Bill Janovitz re Layla: