Original released on Double LP ATCO SD 2-704
(US 1970, November 1)
"Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" is the only studio album by the Anglo-American blues rock band Derek and the Dominos. Derek was, as everyone knows today (but not when the album was out), a pseudonym for Eric Clapton. In fact, Clapton chose "Derek and the Dominos" because he did not want his name and celebrity to get in the way of maintaining a "band" image. Concerned that the press and the public were unaware of Clapton's involvement, Atco and Polydor distributed badges reading "Derek is Eric". The other band members were Bobby Whitlock on keyboards and vocals, Jim Gordon on drums, Carl Radle on bass, and special guest performer Duane Allman on lead and slide guitar on 11 of the 14 songs. In the United States, "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. It returned to the US albums chart again in 1972, 1974 and 1977, and has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA. Having failed to chart in Britain originally, it finally debuted on the UK Albums Chart in 2011, peaking at number 68. In 2000, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2003, television network VH1 named "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" the 89th-greatest album of all time, and Rolling Stone ranked it number 117 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Critic Robert Christgau ranked "Layla" the third greatest album of the 1970s In 2012, the Super Deluxe Edition of the record won a Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album.
Wishing to escape the superstar expectations that sank Blind Faith before it was launched, Eric Clapton retreated with several sidemen from Delaney & Bonnie to record the material that would form "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs". From these meager beginnings grew his greatest album. Duane Allman joined the band shortly after recording began, and his spectacular slide guitar pushed Clapton to new heights. Then again, Clapton may have gotten there without him, considering the emotional turmoil he was in during the recording. He was in hopeless, unrequited love with Patti Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison, and that pain surges throughout "Layla", especially on its epic title track. But what really makes "Layla" such a powerful record is that Clapton, ignoring the traditions that occasionally painted him into a corner, simply tears through these songs with burning, intense emotion. He makes standards like "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" and "Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out)" into his own, while his collaborations with Bobby Whitlock - including "Any Day" and "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?" - teem with passion. And, considering what a personal album "Layla" is, it's somewhat ironic that the lovely coda "Thorn Tree in the Garden" is a solo performance by Whitlock, and that the song sums up the entire album as well as "Layla" itself.
Clapton and Whitlock co-wrote six songs that appear on the album: "I Looked Away", "Keep on Growing", "Anyday", "Bell Bottom Blues", "Tell the Truth" and "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?". Whitlock also contributed "Thorn Tree in the Garden". Clapton brought "I Am Yours" (from a poem by Nizami), and "Layla" (with a coda credited to Jim Gordon). “Tell the Truth" had been initially recorded in June 1970 as an upbeat song, with Harrison's producer, Phil Spector. It was issued as a single, with "Roll It Over" on the B-side. However, as Whitlock recalls, Spector's Wall of Sound production did not fit the band's style, and they had the single withdrawn. On 28 August, the band, together with Allman, recorded "Tell the Truth" as a long and slow instrumental jam. The version released on "Layla" combines the original lyrics with the jam's slower pace. Both vocal versions were later included on the 1972 compilation "The History of Eric Clapton". The last track on the album, "Thorn Tree in the Garden", was "the perfect stereo recording", according to Dowd. Whitlock, Clapton, Allman, Radle and Gordon sat in a circle in the studio, with the microphone placed in the centre as they played live. The covered songs consisted of the blues standards "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" (Jimmy Cox), "Key to the Highway" (Charles Segar, Willie Broonzy), and "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" (Billy Myles); Jimi Hendrix's ethereal "Little Wing"; and an up-tempo version of Chuck Willis's doo-wop ballad "It's Too Late". According to Dowd, the recording of "Key to the Highway" was unplanned. The band heard Sam Samudio in another room at the studio doing the song for his album "Hard and Heavy". They liked it and spontaneously started playing it. Dowd told the engineers to start running the tape, which is why the Dominos' version begins with a fade-in.
The album's front cover is a reproduction of a painting by Emile Théodore Frandsen de Schomberg, titled "La Fille au Bouquet". Clapton first saw the painting at the house of Giorgio Gomelsky in the South of France, when the Dominos stayed there briefly in August 1970, and he immediately spotted a likeness between the blonde-haired woman it depicted and Boyd. Clapton insisted that Frandsen de Schomberg's image be unadorned on the "Layla" sleeve, with no text added to give either the band's name or the title of the album. Derek and the Dominos went on tour to support "Layla" and performances from the November–December 1970 US tour were released in January 1973 on "In Concert" album. Allman never toured with Derek and the Dominos, but he did make three appearances with them. Clapton continued to play the song "Layla" live, such as in 1985, at Live Aid (in Philadelphia). In 2006, Clapton and J.J. Cale recorded "The Road to Escondido", on which Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks played guitar; following that album, Clapton went on tour with Trucks as part of his band. Clapton explained later that the presence of Trucks made him feel like he was playing as Derek and the Dominos again, and as the tour progressed, the set changed to where the first half of the show consisted entirely of songs from "Layla", the show ending up with the song "Layla" itself.