Posts Tagged ‘Derek and the Dominos’

Derek and The Dominos‘ 1970 album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” is being reissued for its 50th Anniversary as a deluxe 4LP vinyl set and across two CDs.

The original album has been half-speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios and, being a double, is pressed on two LPs. Two further records of bonus material (not half-speed mastered) make up this 4LP deluxe box set.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was celebrated back in 2011 with a deluxe, cross-format box set that featured the remastered original album (on CD, vinyl and in a 5.1 surround mix on DVD), 1973’s In Concert, and a disc of 13 bonus tracks, including new mixes of outtakes from the supergroup’s unfinished second album and a live set from The Johnny Cash Show. This new box strips things back somewhat, offering the half-speed mastered album and the 13 bonus cuts across four LPs along with the 12″ x 12″ book from the 40th anniversary set and a certificate of authenticity.  (The 2CD 40th anniversary edition will also go back into print as well, ostensibly for the 50th anniversary.) Alongside this is a further 2LPs of bonus material some of which has previously been unreleased on vinyl. All the bonus material across all of LP3 & LP4 is mastered normally (so is not half-speed mastered).

Layla was the end result of four members of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett’s touring group – guitarist Eric Clapton (already well-known for work with Blind Faith, The Beatles and many more), singer Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon – coming together for a brief but fruitful series of sessions. (Their earliest session produced the briefly issued single “Tell the Truth,” produced by Phil Spector and featuring guitar work from Dave Mason and George Harrison.) The Layla sessions also featured scintillating guitar contributions from Duane Allman. Despite the album’s pedigree, the album never performed to expectations, and tragedy followed the group: Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971, Radle died in 1980 after years of drug abuse, and Gordon remains institutionalized after killing his mother during a schizophrenic episode in 1983.

But gradually, Layla‘s title track took hold as one of Clapton’s crowning achievements: written about his insatiable infatuation with Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd (who indeed had a decade-long marriage with the guitarist after divorcing the Beatle), “Layla” became a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1972; in 1990, its Gordon-led piano outro scored a pivotal scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas – and three years later, a striking acoustic performance for MTV’s Unplugged won a Grammy Award.

“That thing was like lightning in a bottle,” begins Bobby Whitlock talking about his short-lived band time with Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominos. “We did one club tour, we did one photo session, then we did a tour of a bit larger venues. Then we did one studio album in Miami. We did one American tour. Then we did one failed attempt at a second album.” And all within about a year’s time in 1970.

So in this case, the oft-overused flash of lightning description is right on the money. And Whitlock was a key part of the kinetic energy behind what’s considered a genuine landmark in not just Clapton’s career but the entire classic rock genre: the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, co-writing six of the double album’s 10 original songs, and bringing his soul-soaked Deep South keyboard skills to the musical mix, taking the vocal lead on two tracks and doubling/trading off with Clapton throughout the rest of the album.

Now, five decades later, he is the keeper of the Dominos legacy. And the dedicated survivor of a star-crossed band if there ever was one. After the band’s short flash as a working act, he descended into some three years of heroin adduction and seclusion. Duane Allman, who played on most of Layla, was killed in a motorcycle crash on October 29th, 1971. Bassist Carl Radle recorded and played with Clapton later in the ’70s and died of a kidney infection, exacerbated by his alcohol and drug abuse, in 1980. Drummer Jim Gordon as well continued to engage in substance abuse, damaging his career with behavioural issues. In 1983, he murdered his mother, claiming a voice in his head had told him to do so. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and has remained incarcerated ever since.

Whitlock stresses “We were better than anybody.” One of the key elements that made them what he feels were the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band for that all-too-brief time was Whitlock’s deep Southern musical soul. Growing up a preacher’s kid in a family poor as a church mouse, he was weaned on spiritual music (and did some cotton picking in his youth). Coming of age in Memphis, Whitlock was steeped in R&B in the city where white rock ‘n’ roll was born at Sun Studio.

Although Whitlock, only 22 years old at the time, helped Clapton all but define anguished unrequited love in the most profound rock ‘n’ roll terms and tunes on songs like “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,” “Tell the Truth” and “I Looked Away,” his own ultimate love story is something quite different, and a rather delightful one at that. Though his post-Domino years were not without their struggles, today he’s blissfully married and in musical partnership with singer, bassist, guitarist, sax player, songwriter, recording engineer and producer CoCo Carmel.

Whitlock, Clapton, Radle and Gordon became part of the core crew on the sessions for Harrison’s post-Beatles debut, All Things Must PassWhen Harrison had business elsewhere for a few days, he told the four to use the studio time with producer Phil Spector to cut some tracks, which yielded the debut Dominos 45, “Tell the Truth” b/w “Roll It Over.”

Whitlock says of Clapton, “He wanted to be Derek not Eric. He wasn’t ready to step into his role of as a solo artist at that time.” The four musicians did a show at London’s Lyceum Theatre, and then set off on a tour of small English venues as Derek & the Dominos where the admission was £1, and Clapton’s name was forbidden to be used in any advertising. In late August of ’70, the Dominos arrived at Criteria Studios in Miami to record with producer Tom Dowd. He took them to see the Allman Brothers Band, Clapton and Duane Allman bonded, and the latter joined the Layla sessions to help create some of the most incendiary dual guitar rock ever recorded. The album was suffused with Clapton’s passionate longing for his best friend Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd – interestingly, while in England Whitlock dated her sister Paula – and even though it was only a middling hit on its release, over time its stature grew to become considered a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece.

The vinyl box comes with a 12×12″ book of sleeve notes taken from the 40th-anniversary edition. A 2CD edition will also be made available which is effectively identical to the double-CD edition issued in 2011.

The big 40th anniversary box set (which was 4CD+DVD+2LP) featured a surround sound mix on the DVD. Since that is now very hard to get hold of, it’s disappointing that the DVD hasn’t been included as with the two CDs to make a triple disc package.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs will be reissued on 13th November 2020.

 

Image result for jim gordon drum kit

Jim Gordon has played drums on hundreds of hit records, with artists ranging from the Beach Boys to Tom Petty, George Harrison to Hall & Oates to Linda Ronstadt. But you won’t find any gold records hanging in his place of residence: For more than three decades now, Jim Gordon has been locked up, for the crime of fatally stabbing his own mother. His story is one of the great tragedies of the rock world.

It happened on June 3rd, 1983. Gordon attacked his mother, Osa Marie Gordon, first with a hammer before grabbing the butcher knife. He later claimed that voices in his head told him to kill her. Sentenced to 16 years to life in prison, he has repeatedly been denied parole; at one hearing he reportedly refused to admit that his mother was even dead. Diagnosed with schizophrenia after his conviction, he remains, according to prison authorities, a threat. He currently spends his days and nights in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California.

It didn’t start out that way for Jim Gordon, of course. Born in July 1945, and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, Gordon was awarded a music scholarship at age 17 and began his professional drumming career backing the Everly Brothers. His credits quickly mounted: the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman, Van Dyke Parks’ Song Cycle, John Lennon’s Imagine, CSN’s debut and recordings by Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, B.B. King, Carly Simon, Alice Cooper, Traffic, the Monkees, Barbra Streisand, Jackson Browne, Merle Haggard, on and on and on.  At the height of his career Gordon was reportedly so busy as a studio musician that he flew back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas every day to do two or three recording sessions and then returned in time to play the evening show at Caesars Palace.

You can hear him on Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” (that drum solo!), Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” and Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas.” He was, by any measure, a first-call drummer. it’s fairly amazing list of tracks.

Listen to George Harrison’s “What Is Life,” with Jim Gordon on drums. His greatest fame came via his involvement with Eric Clapton, who hired Gordon as a member of Derek and the Dominos, the supergroup put together by the guitar great in 1970, basically purloining the musicians who’d been working with soul-rockers Delaney and Bonnie. Gordon can be heard on the Dominos’ mega-popular album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and performed with the band in concert during its brief time together. He is credited as the co-author (with Clapton) of the classic title track “Layla” and created the song’s familiar piano coda.  In later years, Bobby Whitlock claimed that the coda was not written by Gordon: “Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge. I know because in the D&B days I lived in John Garfield’s old house in the Hollywood Hills and there was a guest house with an upright piano in it. Rita and Jim were up there in the guest house and invited me to join in on writing this song with them called ‘Time.’... Her sister Priscilla wound up recording it with Booker T. Jones.Jim took the melody from Rita’s song and didn’t give her credit for writing it.

(The group’s members also appear on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, also from 1970.)

That same busy year of 1970, Gordon toured with Joe Cocker’s heralded Mad Dogs & Englishmen troupe and played on Dave Mason’s Alone Together album and much more. But it didn’t take long for things to unravel for him once that decade kicked in; when he wasn’t in the studio or onstage, Gordon’s demons got the better of him. While on tour with Cocker, Gordon allegedly beat his then-girlfriend, singer Rita Coolidge, in a hotel.

Gordon was also part of Frank Zappa’s 20-piece ‘Grand Wazoo’ big band and the subsequent 10-piece ‘Petit Wazoo’ band. Perhaps his best-known recording with Zappa is the title track of the 1974 album Apostrophe (‘), a jam with Zappa and Tony Duran on guitar and Jack Bruce on bass guitar, for which both Bruce and Gordon received a writing credit (Zappa, when introducing Gordon onstage, frequently referred to him as “Skippy”, because of his youthful appearance).

Although Gordon continued to find work as the ’70s rolled on, with Johnny Rivers, Frank Zappa, Chris Hillman (Gordon was a charter member of the Souther-Hillman-Furay supergroup) and others, his erratic behavior was becoming well known among music business regulars. Misdiagnosed by his doctors, who treated him for alcoholism and missed the schizophrenia altogether, Gordon became increasingly violent as his mental illness took hold of him. By the middle of the decade, it had begun to affect his playing and he lost work.

Prior to his murder of his mother, Gordon reportedly heard her voice in his head, and on that horrible 1983 day he finally let the voices take him to that very dark place. His lawyers tried an insanity defense but the court wouldn’t allow it. He was convicted of murder and sentenced in July 1984. As of this writing he is 73, his future prospects looking dim. As recently as 2018, still diagnosed with schizophrenia, Gordon was denied parole again. He will have another chance in 2021.

Whatever might happen to the man, though, his contribution to rock music should be forever cherished. With but a dim possibility for parole, Jim Gordon is the man rock- and-roll forgot. Except, perhaps, for one brief moment on February. 24th, 1993, when, along with Eric Clapton, he was awarded the rock songwriting Grammy for ”Layla”.

Derek & The Dominos: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs: 50th Anniversary Edition Box Set

From The Roosters to the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, CreamBlind Faith and Delaney and Bonnie; Eric Clapton had certainly been around over the previous 8 years, prior to forming his new band in early summer 1970. When this new band played their first gig at London’s Lyceum in the Strand on Sunday 14 June they hadn’t quite got around to giving themselves a name, that is until just before being introduced on stage but Derek and the Dominoes it all had a certain ring to it.

The other three members of the band, Bobby Whitlock on keyboards, guitar and vocals, bass player, Carl Radle and drummer and occasional pianist, Jim Gordon had all played together in Delaney and Bonnie’s band and all are on the album, Delaney and Bonnie On Tour With Eric Clapton that was recorded in South London in December 1969 and released in March 1970.

All four musicians also worked with George Harrison on his All Things Must Pass album and earlier in the day of their debut concert they were at Abbey Road for a Harrison session when they cut ‘Tell The Truth’ that became Derek and The Dominoes first single release in September 1970. The b-side of this single was ‘Roll It Over’, another recorded at an ATMP session and this included the former Beatle and Dave Mason of Traffic on guitar and vocals.

Following their London debut the band spent time rehearsing before embarking on a U.K. tour that opened at The Village Blues club in Dagenham Essex, not one of Britain’s most prestigious venues. For the next 22 days they criss-crossed the country playing 18 gigs, ranging from London’s Speakeasy Club to The Black Prince Pub in Bexley Kent and The Penthouse in Scarborough in Yorkshire; there was even a side trip to Biot in France for a lone cross-channel gig.

During July and while the band was touring, Robert Stigwood, the band’s manager, was busy arranging the band’s recording for their debut album. He called Tom Dowd who was working on The Allman Brothers sessions for Idlewild South and told him that the band wanted to come to Florida to record at Criteria Studios in Miami.

Less than a week after their last gig in Plymouth’s Van Dike Club, Clapton, Radle, Whitlock and Gordon were in studio A at Criteria ready to get down to business. On the evening of 26 August Clapton and the others had been invited to an Allman Brothers concert at Miami Beach Convention Center; as Clapton watched Duane play for the first time was hooked. After the gig the two bands headed back to Criteria and jammed for hours.

On Friday 28 August the sessions for Layla and Other Assorted Love songs began in earnest, joining the other four musicians for the next week or so of recording was Duane Allman who was thrilled to be playing with Clapton. The first song they recorded was Clapton and Whitlock’s, ‘Tell The Truth’ – a far more assured version than their earlier effort; it became the opening track of the first side of the second record on the double album that came out in November 1970.

There was no recording on Saturday, but on Sunday and for the next five nights there was some intense activity, intense because on 4th September Duane had a gig in Milwaukee with the Allmans. On Sunday night the session was under way, and despite Tom Dowd’s orders to keep the tapes running at all times, someone had screwed up and it was only Dowd rushing back into the control booth from the men’s room shouting, “Turn the faders up” that preserved the brilliance of the cover on Big Bill Broonzy’s, ‘Key to The Highway’. If anyone asks you if white men can play the blues, point them in the direction of this track.

Monday produced ‘Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out’ and ‘Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad’. On Tuesday Clapton and Whitlock’s, ‘Keep On Growing’ was laid down. Wednesday, I’ Looked Away’, ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ and a cover of a Billy Myles song, made famous by Freddie King, ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’; King was one of Clapton’s favourite blues guitarists.
Layla
Thursday was the last day of Duane Allman being available and the band nailed, ‘I Am Yours’, ‘Anyday’ and another by the man they called, ‘The King of the Stroll’, Chuck Wills’s, ‘It’s Too Late’. On Friday and Saturday, with Duane away, the rest of the guys concentrated on overdubs for everything they had so far recorded, barring ‘Key to The Highway’ and ‘Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out’.

After the Allman Brothers Milwaukee gig they played another at Jolly’s Place in Des Moines on 6th September after which Duane flew back to Miami so that the last few songs could be completed. On Wednesday 9th September there was also overdubs to be done and the five musicians, who by this time were all in the proverbial zone, together tackled ‘Little Wing’ and ‘Layla’.

‘Little Wing’ is the band’s tribute to Jimi Hendrix who recorded it on his Axis: Bold Is Love album in 1967. It is a monumental; record, the playing so tight, which belies the fact that Whitlock later recalled he had never heard the song before they cut it and had the words laid out on top of his organ so he could sing them. Nine days later Hendrix died at the Samarkand Hotel, in London’s Notting Hill.

And then there’s ‘Layla’. Clapton was inspired to write the first part of the song having been given a copy of the Persian classical poet, Nizami Ganjavi’s book, The Story of Layla and Majnun. As we now know it is Clapton’s love song to Pattie Boyd, who at that time was married to George Harrison; she later married Clapton in 1979. It is also a song of two halves.

The first half recorded by the band on sixteen tracks including multi layered guitars by Clapton and a single track of Allman’s solos. After laying down his song Clapton returned to the studio to hear Jim Gordon playing a piano piece that he immediately loved and decided he wanted to add it to ‘Layla’ to complete the track; it proved to be an inspired decision of a happy coincidence. The composing credits on the song are Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, but Gordon had in fact borrowed the melody from his former girlfriend.

According to Bobby Whitlock, “Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge. I know because in the D&B days I lived in John Garfield’s old house in the Hollywood Hills and there was a guesthouse with an upright piano in it. Rita and Jim were up there in the guesthouse and invited me to join in on writing this song with them called ‘Time.’ Her sister Priscilla wound up recording it with Booker T. Jones; Jim took the melody from Rita’s song and didn’t give her credit for writing it. Her boyfriend ripped her off.”

For the last session for the album it seems somehow appropriate that it should be the delicate, ‘Thorn Tree In The Garden’ a Bobby Whitlock song, which he also sings, that is poignant and such a fitting closer. It’s like the morning after the party when there is peace and quiet imbued with a reflective air that is perfection.

After wrapping up the sessions Clapton, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon headed back to the UK to begin an extensive bout of touring beginning at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls, in South London on 20th September. Between then and 28th September they played eight UK dates and another in Paris. However, according to the tape boxes for the Layla sessions there were sessions in Miami at Criteria on 1 October where they overdubbed ‘Layla’ and ‘It’s Too Late’ and on the following day Clapton, Allman and Gordoncut a version of little Walter Jacob’s ‘Mean Old World’. October 1st was a Thursday and on that day Derek and The Dominos, were 4,400 odd miles away from Florida in the south of England playing a gig at Swindon Town Hall. So what is the story here? Could it be that they flew to Miami during their two days off on 29th and 30th September and the boxes were labelled a day or so later?

We are continuing our investigations with the help of Bill Levenson who produced the 40th anniversary reissue of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs.   

Thanks to UDiscover.