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The Layla Sessions (20th Anniversary Edition) [Remastered]

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Album Review

This three-CD box did a lot of good for rock reissues, though not necessarily for the Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs album. It was the first high-profile reissue to treat rock with the same respect that scholars had long accorded jazz, going beyond the finished tracks to the outtakes and anything else usable that turned up in the vaults. Getting to that point, however, involved a mistake that compromised the most attractive element of the box, the remastering of the original album. Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs had been a vexation since the dawn of the CD era, its first issue marred by harsh textures and lots of noise, a result of the multiple overdubs on the original album. Then Polygram issued the Eric Clapton box Crossroads in 1988, which included a new remastering of "Layla" and the handful of other songs from the album; in the course of preparing that set, the producers stumbled upon the long-missing multi-tracks from the Layla album sessions. Thus, they had access to all of the outtakes, as well as the raw material needed to remix the whole album. That was what they did on this box, rebuilding each song from its original multi-track session recordings on disc one, assembling various unused alternate masters of six of the songs on disc two, and filling up disc three with 76 minutes of studio jamming by the band, divided into four extended tracks. And the result of all of that work was more harsh criticism from the public and reviewers, who felt that the remixed album lacked the Phil Spector-ish Wall of Sound element that had made the original LP a larger-than-life experience. Still, the concept behind the box was sound, and it is possible for the real fan to appreciate the nuances of the playing on the original tracks as never before, and fascinating to hear, say, the newly exposed solo guitar part on "Anyday" or the layers of instruments throughout. The annotation — featuring detailed recollections by the late Tom Dowd, who engineered the album — told of precisely how intense, creative, and quick those recordings were. The producers even included copies of the tracking sheets for the individual songs, the notes by the engineer detailing which recorded tracks to use, and how and where solos, vocals, guitar harmony, fades, and other elements of the song related to each other when assembling the finished songs. The jams are primarily for the hardcore fan, though they're not bad — they're of a piece with (but much more interesting than) the "Apple Jam" tracks off of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass (which, coincidentally, comprised the sessions whence the Dominos were spawned). Clapton and Duane Allman take their playing in consistently interesting directions, with Bobby Whitlock's keyboards not far behind and Carl Radle and Jim Gordon providing a rocksteady rhythm section, even if little of the material is as attractive as the songs off of the finished album; besides, it's difficult to complain of being given the opportunity to hear two of the greatest guitarists in the world stretching out for over an hour of spontaneous playing. Each of the jams has a different beat and character, the first being rather blues-soaked, the second rocking harder, the third more laid-back, and the fourth delving into Booker T. & the M.G.'s territory. This set isn't the ultimate, enveloping experience of the Layla album that it could have been — a couple of years later, Mobile Fidelity released a CD that captured the majesty of the original album much better, and at the end of the '90s, Polygram followed suit as part of the "Clapton Remasters" series — but it is still a choice listening experience for any hardcore fan of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, or the Allman Brothers, or the Dominos.

Customer Reviews

Power

While the iTunes review above points out some interesting facts regarding the much-traveled history of the original session tapes, it doesn't pay deserved tribute to this timeless jewel of blues rock guitar work. The original album long ago fell victim to FM radio overexposure, but ironically the material here is well worth the asking price, even without the physical packaging, liner notes, catalog, etc. (which I also have - the discs however, were stolen from me at one point). When I first heard these tracks, I was astounded by the improvement in sound quality, track separation, and final production value over the original album, thanks to our technology. Add to that the fact that the Jam tracks alone are PRICELESS and you soon understand why this offering is a true one of a kind. Sure, there are similarly re-mastered PIECES of these sessions here and there (see: various Clapton stuff), but there's nothing else available that does full service to what took place in October 1970 at Criteria Studios in Miami under the masterful guidance of producer Tom Dowd. I stongly encourage you to research what took place during these sessions before you buy the set to gain an even greater appreciation of this seminal piece of artistry. Git.

It's great, but from iTunes, not a great value.

Clapton's guitar is as blistering as ever, and there's a ton of music in this collection, but come on iTunes. I can buy the box set with all the liner notes for $10 less from Amazon. The remaster tends to overemphasize the guitars over the drums and bass, the exact opposite of the original recording, but it's still great stuff. The box set itself is a solid 5, but it's just not a very good value from iTunes.

Another Wonderful tonite.....

I saw him in 75' in Tulsa, OK,, his buddies BB King, Leon Russell and more I can't remember dropped in on his concert and I was smitten with his style, versatility and his everything a female lover of Clapton and Russell and King put on the same stage for what seemed like EVER> He just gets better at everything and his looks are even sexier now than then....An album to kick back and enjoy, reflect and walk away feeling fantastic.....

Biography

Formed: 1970 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Derek & the Dominos was a group formed by guitarist/singer Eric Clapton (born Eric Patrick Clapp, March 30, 1945, Ripley, Surrey, England) with other former members of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, in the spring of 1970. The rest of the lineup was Bobby Whitlock (b. 1948, Memphis, TN) (keyboards, vocals), Carl Radle (b. 1942, Oklahoma City, OK — d. May 30, 1980) (bass), and Jim Gordon (b. 1945, Los Angeles) (drums). The group debuted at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on June 14 and...
Full Bio