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138 of 149 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2005
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I used to have the optimistic point of view that, in the digital age, old music could be infinitely improved if it was properly remixed and remastered. Time has shown that the best of the digital "redos" can only be as good as the original source tape, whether the original stereo master or the original multitracks.

It's obvious now, after at least six attempts at digital remastering (the original CD reissue, the boxed set in '90, the Mobile Fidelity release in '93, the '96 remaster and now the SACD edition), that the original tapes are not that well recorded. We've heard excuses for this, that everything was recorded live (and LOUD) and there was a lot of bleed between mics, that it was the beginning of multitrack technology and therefore noisy, that everyone, including the engineers, was stoned, etc., etc.

None of the excuses, except for the drugs, really holds up. They were working in a fine studio with state of the art equipment, a place where other artists made fine sounding records at that time. Also, I don't think they were playing all that loud, as Clapton was using a Pignose (small amp) for much of the session. But even if they were playing loud, I doubt that they could top the volume level of Who's Next, for instance, and that's a fine sounding LP.

Anyway, it is what it is. It's obvious now that there will be no significant improvement on the way this LP sounds. It will always sound claustrophobic, muddy and midrange heavy. You know they've gone back to the multitracks at least twice (20th Anniversery was remixed and they had to use the multitracks for the 5.1 on the SACD) with no significant improvement.

So I guess we just have to appreciate the subtle improvements, and, to disagree with several other reviews, I think they are here. I own all the other remasters, and I've felt like the best were the Mobile Fidelity and the '96 remaster. Tough to declare a winner there; each has their pros and cons, and the difference is definitely subtle. Last night, I did an A-B comparision of each of those with this SACD, and the SACD is a marked improvement on the bottom end. The drums also have more detail. When the tape becomes more saturated (i.e., when all those guitar overdubs kick in) like on Anyday, it still becomes a quagmire. But on sparser songs, like Have You Ever Loved A Woman, the improvement is considerable.

Our ears (and minds) are tricky animals. When looking for improvement in a recording such as this, it is not fair to compare to another recording. Layla will never sound like Who's Next or Abbey Road. Different musicians, different studio, different conditions. And Layla will never be a CD to demo speakers with. But when comparing apples to apples, I guarantee this SACD is the best sounding Layla yet.
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266 of 300 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Rolling Stone Magazine recently devoted a whole issue to the 500 best albums of all time. I was stunned that this album did not appear at least in the top 10. It drives me to drink that there are millions of rock fans out there who don't even know this music exists.
It is well known what the back-story is for this record. Clapton fell for George Harrison's wife, Patty. They had a fling and then she turned her back on him. The resulting emotional devastation for Clapton wound up expressed as these songs. When the original album came out, we knew none of this. For the first couple of years, Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs was overlooked not only because the public didn't know the story but also because most didn't even know Eric Clapton played on it. But on first listen, we knew "something" happened. For all we knew, some girl who worked in a teashop could have dumped him. It didn't matter. Something real and wretched happened-this wasn't show business.
Most women, unfortunately, do not know men can feel this way this deeply. This is not to fault them. They simply fall into the common human mistake of assuming that if men do not express it then they do not feel it. Most men know well that these "blues" are all too real-they just rarely speak of them among themselves. Sometimes they can pretend they are immune to them. But deep down men know that "that certain woman" can destroy them.
For all too many the only way we can talk about these things is through the anesthesia of intoxication. While it is true that we often drink to forget, just as often we drink to remember because it is only with a numbness that we can deal and look at what's eating us. So it was with Clapton. He was taking large amount of drugs during the making of this album-heroin being just one. Some argue that it was only through the haze of drugs and alcohol that Layla could be made. Maybe yes. Maybe no. But even if were true that Layla had to have the "blessing" of intoxication to be made, it does not explain why this music is so beautiful.
I have listened to this album ever since 1971. Along the way, every single song at one time or another has become my favorite. "I Looked Away" is the nice, gentle quiet before the storm. It is deceptively a "light" beginning; but it immediately tells the listener what's going on. "Bell Bottom Blues" is more dynamic but interestingly many dismiss it the first couple of listens. Upon repeated hearings one becomes aware just how much this song "cooks". Thematically, I would argue that Clapton's story is first summed up here. "Keep On Growing" seems to a positive, exciting "rave-up" except a few notes of self-doubt which seep in. The end of the first LP side of the album is wrapped up with "Nobody Know You When You're Down And Out". Compared to "Keep On Growing", "Nobody Knows You..." is more somber. It is a blues musing on how as times are good and bad friends come and go and after a while one is no longer so certain what those "friends" are worth.
Side Two begins with "I Am Yours", an acoustic pleading that in spite the loved one's coldness the singers love still flows from the heart. This followed by "Anyday". I am surprised how many people do not care for this song; but you would have to have a heart of stone not the feel the combination of hope and anguish as the refrain is repeated:
The second side finishes a long version of "Key To The Highway" and the third side opens with "Tell The Truth". These two songs may seem to have little to do with the main story until one recognizes that both deal with "leaving". The album then continues with "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad". While good in its own way, this version seems to be a mere blueprint to the extended one which appears on the In Concert album: one of the all too few examples of where the "live" version is much better than the original. The third side concludes with "Have You Ever Loved A Woman". A sort of mediation and prayer over a love in which "the water is wide...I can't cross o'er". It seems it's all over.
But there's more. The fourth side opens with "Little Wing". Clapton worshiped the ground Hendrix walked on and he cried at Hendrix passing not because he left but because Hendrix didn't take Clapton with him. So it has been all the more surprising and delightful that Clapton took Hendrix' sad, quiet and gentle song and made it raw, emotional and thunderous. It is a successful example of two contrary emotions being expressed at the same time: the lyrics are worshipping and loving while the music is heartbreaking and cries of desperation. "It's Too Late" is a relatively simply and "clean" realization that "that one last chance" is gone. It is a little gem.
Then we end with "Layla". "Layla" restates the story of the whole album and begs the lost love to take the singer back. "Layla" ends with a dreamy, grand instrumental suggesting a sweet reconciliation of the two lovers. The time of distress and torment is over.
But with "Thorn Tree In The Garden" we realize that dreamy reconciliation existed only in the hopes of the singer. It is a new day and our lover is still gone.
This is one of the greatest rock and roll records ever made. Do yourself a favor and get it. Listen to it a lot. Make it yours. You will love it. And then maybe after twenty years you'll begin to understand it. May you never have to experience something like it for yourself someday.
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106 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
"Have you ever loved a woman, so much you're tremblin' in pain, and all the time you know she bears another man's name - but you just love that woman so much, it's a shame and a sin ... and all the time you know she belongs to your very best friend!" If you'd never heard this album's title track, you would swear that "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" was the song that Eric Clapton wrote for Pattie Boyd Harrison; not only do the lyrics of Billy Myles' blues classic fit so perfectly, Clapton positively pours his heart out as he sings them, and his guitar screams with the pain of unrequited love. And even before get to this song, Clapton's own "Bell Bottom Blues" lays bare similar feelings and recalls his infamous heroin ultimatum to Pattie ("Either you come with me or I'll take that"): "Do you wanna see me crawl across the floor to you? Do you wanna hear me beg you to take me back?" And as the man pleads with her, so does his guitar, and you wonder what woman could possibly have resisted such an impassioned plea.

Until of course, almost at the end of the album, you hear "Layla," this record's motto more than a simple title track and, in many respects, its reason for being. Torn by personal insecurity, Clapton used the cover and seeming anonymity of yet another band, and the parable of a medieval Persian love story ("Layla and Majnun" - reportedly, "majnun," in Persian, means madman) to put into music what he couldn't put into words alone. From its opening riff to its last note the song is pure blues, Clapton audibly on the brink of the madness he sings about, and his guitar wailing, moaning and crying out all that was in his heart: "Layla ... you got me on my knees - Layla ... I'm begging darling, please - Layla ... won't you ease my worry now?" Sparks must have been flying in the studio while Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, recruited by manager Tom Dowd to add inspiration and take some of the lead guitar weight off Clapton's shoulders, drove each other to ever greater heights, simultaneously feeding off and to each other.

Like most of the album, "Layla" was recorded live in the studio, and only a live recording could transmit this feverish outbreak of passion. Merely listening to the song is emotionally exhausting, and you can only imagine what must have gone on in the studio and inside Clapton during its recording. To hear the Allman Brothers' drummer Butch Trucks tell the story (in an interview for "Off the Record"), Duane Allman gave "Layla" its finishing touch when he added the five notes immediately following its signature riff. Yet, Allman is not credited as a writer (if that story is true, though, how much more than those five notes would it have taken I wonder?); only drummer Jim Gordon is, for having written the song's piano closing - which he had to be persuaded to allow to be used.

While Eric Clapton continued to perform the song unaltered for years after its initial recording, he spontaneously decided to include it in the setlist of his MTV "Unplugged" appearance where, deprived of all its riffs, even its signature beginning toned down to a few simple notes, and Clapton's voice unexpectedly reflective, Layla assumed a different personality although not a word of the lyrics was altered. Yet, just as Eric Clapton's and Pattie Boyd's marriage was over by then, Layla was now less an object of burning desire than somebody the singer thought about - thought back to maybe, or sought a conversation with, possibly cautioning her about the consequences of her actions, or recalling his experiences with her: "What will you do when you get lonely, no one waiting by your side? You've been running, hiding much too long - you know it's just your foolish pride ..." And although Clapton has gone back to performing the song in its "plugged in" version during his recent tour in promotion of "Reptile," he has confined himself to talking only about its musical values, commenting on the technical difficulties of playing riffs and chords that are virtually opposite to what you are singing in an interview for the "Reptile" tour's official program.

Besides Eric Clapton and late addition Duane Allman, Derek And The Dominos consisted of the musicians "left over" by the breakup of Delaney and Bonnie, with whom Clapton had briefly found shelter after yet another supergroup of his (Blind Faith) had disintegrated way too quickly: Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. Like virtually all of Eric Clapton's albums, solo as well as with his various bands, this record combines material written by Clapton himself and covers of songs he liked; and of course, there is much more to it than "Layla," "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" and "Bell Bottom Blues." As always, Clapton makes his mark with every song alike, and as always, he needs and has found (or Tom Dowd found for him) a cast of outstanding musicians to work with. Segar/Bronzy's "Key to the Highway" becomes an extended blues jam session as there ever was one, and Jimmie Cox's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" forecasts the feelings which, among other things, later compelled Clapton to establish the Crossroads foundation.

Eric Clapton has said about Derek And The Dominos in the interview for the "Reptile" tour program: "[That] was a band I really liked - and it's almost like I wasn't in that band. It's just a band that I'm a fan of. Sometimes, my own music can be like that. When it's served its purpose to being good music, I don't associate myself with it any more. It's like someone else. It's easy to do those songs then." Hearing the raging pain of "Layla"'s original recording, you wonder whether this is maybe also the only way for him to do it now ... at least "plugged in."

Also recommended:
Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert
Crossroads
Unplugged
One More Car: One More Rider (CD & DVD Set)
Riding with the King
The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
On the surface this album looks like not much more than an extended drug-inspired jam session by five strung-out session musicians. But delving further into the content, you quickly realize the story and the inspiration behind this masterpiece. Be forewarned, this is not a feel good album.. The themes of intense pain, loss, desperation and utter hopelessness come through on virtually every track. This is Clapton baring his soul for all to see - behind the guise of Derek and the Dominos.

In case you were born yesterday, this album is the cover for Clapton's then-obsession with Pattie Boyd (a.k.a. Layla) who was married to George Harrison at the time. The album chronicles Clapton's love affair with Pattie and the depression and drug addiction that ensued as a result. Out of all of this came surely the greatest 77 minutes of his career and some of the absolute greatest guitar work of all time. After the 'Layla Sessions', Clapton spiraled downward into a serious, three-year depression and heroin addiction which nearly ended his life.

Enter Duane Allman. In his short career, this man became the quintessential slide guitar player with a style that 30+ years later has not been matched. His contributions to this album are enormous. He only lived one full year after this album was released, but his impact on Derek on the Dominos was enormous. The title track 'Layla' contains some of the most haunting slide and lead guitar harmonies EVER recorded. Allman's slide harmonies literally 'cried' the pain that Clapton was living through in this song. They literally sound like a chorus of violins wailing during the Layla coda. It can be tearful to listen how Duane captured Eric's pain so intensely. Credit must also be given to the producer/engineer. Tom Dowd captured the exponential magic of these five musicians so flawlessly - especially in 'Layla'. The album would be worth five starts on that one song alone.

But there is so much more. Most of the songs in one way or another explore the hopelessness that Clapton faced in his obsession with Pattie. 'I looked Away' is a formidable opener to the set - perhaps Clapton realizing his lost opportunity to have her. 'I Am Yours' and 'Anyday' are touching ballads with acoustic and electric harmonies that blend perfectly. Perhaps most interesting though is Clapton's classic remake of Hendrix's 'Little Wing'. In 'Little Wing', he places Layla on the immortal pedestal that becomes his own undoing. The wash of guitars heard through slide power chords and swirling harmonies really outdoes Hendrix. He would have wanted this to be his own version. 'Thorn Tree in the Garden' (written by Bobby Whitlock for Clapton) is the bittersweet farewell to the love that he knows he cannot have. It's like a eulogy for her - knowing she is gone. "And if I never see her face again, I never hold her hand. And if she's in somebody's arms, I know I'll understand... But I miss that girl. I still miss that girl. Maybe someday soon, somewhere."

Sadly, Clapton's darkest days produced his finest work. Listen to this album and you will understand.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Two discs-76,57 minutes each approximately. The sound is clean and open-better than past editions, and world's away better than the original, muddy, vinyl release. The discs snap inside the usual fold-out holder like other Deluxe Editions, except there's no protective plastic sleeve this time around. The booklet has information about the band, the songs-who plays on what, and includes period photos-you've probably already seen the two-page photo-collage from the original gate-fold album. This edition is for people who don't have the original version of this album from just a few years ago, as far as sound quality, but there are slight differences-listeners will have to decide for themselves.

The first disc is taken up with the original 2 LP album. By now most people, if not at least familiar with the music, have owned a copy for many years. Also by now, most people know the story behind the album-Clapton's intense playing, and the frustrated, heart broken vocals because of his love for his friend, George Harrison's wife. Nothing really needs to be said about these songs-they speak for themselves. But it's interesting that when the album was originally released, it didn't create much excitement. At the time people actually did ask-"Does Clapton play on this album"? "Is he a sideman"? "Whose Derek"? Well, it didn't take long before several songs became popular through radio play, and the album to be hailed a classic.

The second disc is where things get interesting. After playing on "All Things Must Pass", Clapton decided that Phil Spector should produce a new album Clapton was going to record. But the single (included here) "Tell The Truth", along with "Roll It Over" was quickly withdrawn by the band. Hearing these sides it's fairly apparent that Spector wasn't the right choice for the album. Several tracks from the aborted second album are also here. While they have their moments, the absence of catalyst Duane Allman on guitar is telling. The sound and feel is very different-Clapton needed a good , fiery player to spark him into playing his best. I was lucky enough to hear the band live, and the difference without Allman was very apparent. There were exciting moments, but that initial fire was all but gone. At times Clapton sounded bored-as if he had tuned up and tuned out.

"Mean Old World", an old blues workhorse, is here with both Clapton and Allman laying into the tune on acoustic guitars, which is a highlight (of several) on this disc. It's another instance where the rapport between the two guitarists is apparent. Allman was a good acoustic blues player, and here his style blends with Clapton's into an almost intuitive rendition of this great old song. It's too bad that there aren't any other similar tunes, Clapton's world weary vocals, and the simple drum beat keeping time is a good combination. If you own the 3 disc anniversary set, you know this tune already, but it's still a great version.

The two versions of "Got To Get Better In A Little While" are interesting, and fill in a gap in the group's discography. The jam version is just that-loose and fluid. The finished version (Bobby Whitlock went back into the studio to flesh out and complete the tune) is simply a more polished sounding song. This great tune has always been popular, and both versions are very worthwhile.

But, arguably, the best tracks on this disc are from Johnny Cash's TV show. During it's run, Cash had a number of good musical guests, besides his own performances. I still remember the excitement of hearing different generations of great musicians launch into "Matchbox" (especially), and hearing the core band playing that night. The excitement of the performances could almost be felt through the TV. Johnny Cash with his own show? Clapton as a musical guest? Too much! Many people (like me) have hoped and waited that this great music would get a good, legitimate release. All the excitement, the history, and the dueling musicians, plus the original band's performance (and seeing Cash in an atypical white, frilly-cuffed shirt), mark this batch of songs as another highlight on this edition.

With now many years of hindsight, the band (originally called "Del and the Dominos") came together in one of those rare moments. The combination of a fully seasoned rhythm section, a fiery yet sensitive guitarist like Allman, good songs (both by the band and outsiders), and Clapton's unrequited love for a woman he thought he could never have, produced a classic album. With Allman to play off of, Clapton's playing soared to heights of near abandon, with Allman matching him note for note. His obsession for Harrison's wife sharpened his writing, singing, and playing skills like never before. Clapton has said that Allman was the musical brother he never had. Their intuitive playing made the band come alive. The first disc is a classic. The second disc shows what the band sounded like without Allman, and the fact that Clapton was losing interest in the band. But there are a number of gems-the acoustic tune, the Cash TV tracks, even the versions of "Got To Get Better In A Little While", are all exciting, important additions to the original album. This is one "Deluxe Edition" that's worth owning in it's entirety, especially if you don't own a previous edition that's been remastered.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Disc One is the original album, a stone-cold classic, remastered yet again. The music is a bit louder, with stronger bass and slightly less dynamic range, compared to the 2004 reissue (CD/SACD hybrid). Does it sound better than previous CD versions? Maybe a little bit, but not enough in my opinion to repurchase the disc if you're not picky about sound quality, or if you already own the 2004 remaster and don't want the bonus tracks.

Disc Two has the bonus tracks - the real reason to consider buying this reissue. It's nice to have all of the extra Dominos studio songs from the Crossroads box set on one disc, and the remastering is a big improvement over the Crossroads set. Of the Johnny Cash Show songs, I like It's Too Late and Matchbox the best; in my opinion, Got to Get Better and Blues Power are better on the Live at the Fillmore album.

My big complaint is that Polydor left out the original studio mix of Got to Get Better from the Crossroads box. Disc Two is only 58 minutes long, so it would have easily fit on the disc. Bobby Whitlock's new keyboards and backing vocals on the remix are fine, but the solo guitar track is pushed to the right stereo channel and somewhat obscured by the new keyboards and vocals. In my mind, the solo guitar track is the key to what makes this song great, and it's a shame to hear it buried beneath the extra layers of sound. Including the original studio mix would allow listeners to compare the two versions and decide for themselves.

Overall, a nice package for folks willing to spend the money, with one major oversight. However, I think most casual Clapton or Allman fans would be happy with just the original album. Also FYI - there are no new liner notes, but that's not a problem for me.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Like others who have posted reviews here, I opened my package today, purchased from Amazon, to find that two of the discs had slid from their pockets into the cardboard sleeve. It took quite a while to dig them both out and the sleeve is slightly torn already.

This is unbelievable. A 10-year old could figure out the the discs will not stay in slots that really are not pockets at all. Somewhere at Polydor there is a brainless quality manager who ought to be fired, and an over ambitious art director who shouldn't pitch what can't be properly made.

The discs, of course, have glue on them from sliding around. So, while this set might sound great, I wouldn't know because I have adhesive residue on my discs.

I want a new box set, one that is properly assembled, and I want it right now. Thankfully, I can get a replacement immediately from Amazon, but what are the odds it will be acceptable? The blame for this falls to Universal/Polydor, the cheapskates who created this mess, and Amazon has to back up what they sell. This is an expensive package, sold on their merits of its lavish design as much as the music, and like so many other collector's sets lately, it's been shabbily and hastily put together and Amazon customers are, once again, ripped off by the record label.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2004
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have the original LP and the remastered CD copies of this album--but it sounds like a whole new album with the SACD process. The sound is crisp and the separation is great--you can truly hear Clapton and Allman in separate speakers-- music heaven--the vocals are clear and the drums by Jim Gordon sound great--the guitars and organ are fantastic--if you have the CD or LP--I suggest you spend the money for this SACD copy--it sounds like a whole new album--This is definitely Claptons best album..Also look forward to the Cream reunion in January 2005--hope they tour--Clapton will wail---
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2011
Format: Audio CD
The Music Gets 5 Stars

The Packaging is just retarded, I went to an indie record store just to buy *and shake it* myself and still managed to get bad discs... Im mad...

Seriously!

It really is that bad.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
this version:40th anniversary, is the way it sounded on the record (I had it on vinyl), but WAY cleaner. This is a good remaster of the album vs. the 20th anniversary version was a remix that didn't sound like the original record. The drum & piano and vocals sound clean while the guitars maintain their grit without it effecting the other instruments. older versions (cds and the record) sounded like everything was squished together and the distortion from the guitars bled into everything else. So this version is very nice. I can easily distinguish all the guitars separately, not squished together.

This album is Blues with lots of stratocaster guitar through Tube amps. lots of bluesy licks and solos done by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman playing slide. Lyrics are heartfelt, true story about falling in love with his best friends girlfriend.
This is a "classic" rock Album.
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