Derek & The Dominos: Layla

Derek & The Dominos: Layla

Mobile Fidelity  UDSACD 2188

Stereo Hybrid


Derek & The Dominos

Eric Clapton and Duane Allman in the Same Band for the Only Time: Derek and the Dominos' Layla a Timeless Batch of Fire-Pot Blues, Poignant Gospel, Searing Rock, and Lustful Emotion

Mastered from the Original Master Tapes: Mobile Fidelity Hybrid SACD of Layla Is the Definitive-Sounding Digital Edition, Presents Music With Immersive Detail and Realism

The reputation of Derek and the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, their lone record, precedes it. Eric Clapton performing in the studio with Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and more for the only time. A batch of fire-pot blues, poignant gospel, and searing rock – all birthed from the leader's insatiable lust for his friend George Harrison's wife. Now, experience it all, and one of the most famous guitar solos and codas in history, in unsurpassed sound courtesy of this quintessential Mobile Fidelity reissue.

Mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelity's hybrid SACD exposes the brilliance of Tom Dowd's original production and the scope of the virtuoso musicians' playing. You've never been closer to the aching vocals, stinging leads, tormented emotions, or wowing intensity that grace every track. Clapton's tones emerge with unprecedented soulfulness. Afforded its own space in the mix, Allman's slide guitar passages crackle with urgency. All-important sonic components such as soundstaging, imaging, and dynamics transport you to the actual event. Mobile Fidelity's SACD testifies on behalf of why fans deemed Clapton god.

Then, of course, there's the title track – crowned the 27th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone. What to say about the outro – arguably the most famous, passionately penetrating, visceral, double-edged guitar solo in history. Clapton's strings weeping with longing, hope, regret, unrequited love. It deserves the best-possible sonic platform, and receives it here, on an audiophile disc that brings Slowhand's every finger moment into great relief. Get inside Clapton's head, burrow into the conflicted emotions fluttering in his heart as he pines for his another man's wife, and in the process, produces an album that forever lives in the souls of anyone who's ever loved and lost.

Clapton's pained yearning permeates everything here. Works such as the swampy "Tell the Truth," the pleading "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?," and blues-drenched "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?" attest to his raw-nerve discomfort, guilt, and desire. He leaves teardrops on the microphone stand and blood on the floor, singing and playing as if his life depends on it and if, by some miracle, the music will serve as both a confessional and apology to Harrison. It's all magnified by Clapton achieving a spiritual and sonic oneness with his band, which matches his high-stakes precision with a rolling, tumbling looseness.

Allman adds firepower and achieves a still-unrivaled simpatico bond with Clapton, but each participant soars. Consider: The call-and-response, Sam and Dave-derived vocal exchanges between Whitlock and Clapton. Rich, creamy, Southern-stoked blends of R&B, blues, and soul. Vibrant tapestries in which the pianos, bass, guitars, and voices explode with ravishing fervor, naturalism, and desperation. Indeed, maybe a combo this great was only intended one shot in the studio. Perhaps the paralyzing degree of potency on display here, and the musicianship that remains the standard by which any blues-rock is judged, is meant to be preserved as one standalone record.

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Comments (2)

Comment by Tony Reif - August 7, 2017 (1 of 2)

Has anyone compared this to the SHM-SACD using the 2013 American DSD flat transfer (I think) from master tapes? i like the Mofi but I wonder if maybe the highs have been rolled off a bit.

Comment by Downunderman - October 15, 2017 (2 of 2)

Tony, I can't help you on how it compares to the Japan remaster - there is debate that I have seen on whether the same 'master' tapes were used - but I can tell you that the MOFI version is a warts and all flat transfer.

They have not engaged in any tinkering that I can hear, not even equalising the levels from track to track. Plus plenty of tape hiss is present too. You can be sure that there has been no rolling off at the top. These are old tapes, probably not even top quality tape stock. And there was a lot of volume squeezed onto those 40+ year old tapes.

It is much more likely that other versions have had the top end tipped up and otherwise tinkered with.