If you’re a music geek like me (and I assume you are if you are reading this) then you are fascinated by the the process of creating music. You want to see how it’s put together. If that’s the case then I think I have something with your mind in mind. Below are two clips that feature isolated tracks from the Derek & The Dominoes classic Layla.
The first clip has the isolated tracks for Clapton’s lead vocal, his lead guitar in the verses and choruses, a rhythm guitar on the chorus, and Duane Allman’s slide solos, plus acoustic guitar on the song’s piano coda and another guitar played through a Leslie rotary speaker. Listening to the clip made me appreciate once again how cool Clapton’s lead guitar is during the verses but the highlight has to be Duane Allman’s slide guitar part. Hearing it isolated from the rest of the song, Allman’s slide guitar (starting at 2:24) demonstrates his control and spot on intonation, something especially difficult when playing in the guitar’s higher range. At around 3:04, he’s actually going beyond the guitar fretboard but is still playing in tune. At the 3:33 mark, the famous coda begins and to hear Duane’s slide guitar part all by itself is breathtaking. Extra bonus: I never noticed before the acoustic guitar part that begins at 4:49. Nifty!
Layla – Lead Vocal & Lead Guitar
The second clip is the other side of the coin from the first clip. This clip has the backing tracks for Layla. This includes the drums, bass, keyboards (piano and organ), rhythm guitars, some harmonized guitar riffs and the backing vocals. Listening to this clip reminds me of how great a band The Dominoes were. Jim Gordon’s drums are high in the mix and pack a wallop but now you can also appreciate little things that were buried like the organ during the verses and the cool little triplet figures that bassist Carl Radle (one of the most underrated bassists ever) plays in the second half of the verse.
Layla – Backing Track (Drums, Organ, Piano, Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals)
This next clip ties it all together. It’s from an excellent documentary, Tom Dowd and Language of Music. Dowd was a long time engineer and producer for Atlantic Records and was involved in the creation of some of the most important jazz, rock and R&B records ever made, including Layla. In the clip below, he recounts how Clapton and Allman met and the immediate musical telepathy between them. Then, sitting at a mixing board, he plays some of the isolated parts of the song. As Dowd says in the clip, they’re playing notes that aren’t on the instruments.
Tom Dowd on producing “Layla”
Getting this look into how it was put together makes me appreciate this song all the more.