Saturday, July 05, 2008

Top 40 at 40 #33

#33 Derek and the Dominos- Bell Bottom Blues 1970

I had a long affair with the album that this track comes from, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. It was really my first introduction to Blues Rock Music. It was the first CD box set I ever bought in 1990. The third CD in the set is previously unreleased jams....LONNNNGGG Jams. But they kick ass because Erik had invited Duane Allman to the sessions after checking out the Allmans live in Florida near the Miami Studio where Layla was recorded, and most of the jams contain these two guitar gods trading licks. This album is Eric Clapton at his very best. In my opinion, everything after this album is Eric "phoning it in". We needed more drugged out desperate lovesick pain screaming out of his Strat but never saw it again after this album. He got clean, started wearing suits and nice watches and worked with Tina Turner and Babyface....basically stopped trying. He was in love with Patti Boyd, George Harrison's wife at the time and poured out his pain caused by not being able to have her with almost every song. But it is on this track where his predicament is most evident. The guy is crushed. Strung out and sobbing through his lyrics. The solo is simple, but nails his emotion perfectly.

I had a hard time choosing between this, the second track and I Looked Away, the brilliant album opener. I almost never listen to one without the other. You know back in the day when radio was good and you used to hear songs together from the same artist without explanation? Like Heartbreaker/Livin' Lovin' Maid by Led Zep or We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions by Queen? Thats how I hear these two tracks. A perfect pair. But I chose this one because it brings the pain....and some pain is good, useful, even. I also love the high background vocals by keyboardist Bobby Whitlock..

Most of you know the big hit Layla from this album, and maybe ,like me, never need to hear it again. There is a cool story behind it, though. The piano coda in it was written by the drummer for these sessions Jim Gordon and he received a co-writing credit on what turned out to be one of Claptons biggest hits. Jim Gordon went on to be one of the most successful session drummers of all time. The dude played with everyone! Alice Cooper? Check! Steely Dan? Check! Soundtrack from the Muppet Movie? Check! He must have overfilled his plate one too many times though because he complained of voices in his head starting in the late 70s and killed his own mom in 1983. The acoustic version of Layla won a huge Grammy in 1992 for best rock song. The song it beat out? Smells Like Teen Spirit. If thats not bad enough, Jim Gordon is now the only grammy winner in history serving a life sentence.

Top 5 Derek and the Dominos songs 1) Bell Bottom Blues 2) I Looked Away 3) I Am Yours 4)Anyday 5) Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad

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