BluesMuse48.
Talk about being let down by your
own blog post. I thought my video juke box link might add a nice bit of
nostalgia to Christmas Day for anyone interested in 1950s classic American
pop music. So, on Christmas Day, round we go to my younger son’s place where
he’s promised to indulge me by playing my Christmas jukebox. He’s got a huge
great iMac screen upon which to watch the old pop classics playing, so we link expectantly
to my Merry Christmas (From Paul Merry) post; and absolutely nothing happens.

The
iMac refused to link to my video juke box link. My wife’s iPad would connect, but who wants to watch and listen to music on an iPad? So, if you checked out my blog on Christmas Day hoping to
connect to some vintage Americana, and my link wouldn’t connect, a massive
apology to you. If
you did manage to log on, however, it would be nice to receive your feedback.
Now,
as you know, every cloud has a silver lining and we spent the evening, instead, listening
to music on Spotify, the music streaming service which enables
you to listen to almost any track in the world except Beatles and Stones tracks, I believe. Some songs you can’t find on Spotify; but there are also many million that you can.
It’s
great for allowing people to check out old song favourites they thought were gone
forever.

A favourite album from 1972
On Christmas Day Spotify allowed us to play magnificent song after magnificent song (in my eyes, anyway. Aren’t all
songs subjective?)  Just one example was the
fabulous Valerie, by the now defunct Liverpool band, The Zutons. You’ll probably
know Mark Ronson’s equally superb cover versions with the sadly departed Amy
Winehouse on vocals. If you can put up with the commercial at the beginning,
here’s a link to Ronson’s video featuring various miming Amy Winehouse
look-alikes (because the real Amy wasn’t available for the shoot).
Another
old, old favourite was an album that never got the kudos it so richly deserved.
That was Grin 1+1 released in 1972 with songs written by their guitarist, the
21-year-old Nils Lofgren. Yes, that’s the same Nils Lofgren who was in Neil
Young’s Crazy Horse and played on ‘Young’s After The Gold Rush album. Nils has
also long been a stalwart of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, as Springsteen
fans will know. Nils Lofren’s Grin 1+1 album was a pop classic in its own right;
and with a ‘Rockin’ Side’ and a ‘Dreamy Side’ had something for everyone.
Of
course, we got onto all the blues classics, getting to a high point which was
going to be hard to

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

top. Then I remembered one of my best-loved records from
the early 70s, Derek and The Dominos’ seminal “Layla and Other Assorted Love
Songs”; and their rendition of the fabulous Key To The Highway.

For
younger blues lovers who don’t know of Derek and the Dominos, do yourself a
huge favour and check them out. Key To The Highway won’t be on film or video
but this is the link to the Dominos’ Have You Ever Loved A Woman, written in
1960 by the late U.S. R&B songwriter, Billy Myles:
The
reason the breathtaking Derek and the Dominos’ album version of Key To The
Highway was never filmed was it was only recorded by pure chance, in Criteria
Studios, Miami. Sam the Sham of Woolly Bully fame was in the studio next door
cutting the song, which is usually credited to blues pianist Charlie Segar, who
recorded it first in 1940, and blues legend, Big Bill Broonzy. Big Bill
recorded it in 1941 with harmonic player, Jazz Gillum, cutting it down from
12-bars to the eight bars so familiar today. The story goes that Eric Clapton
and Duane Allman started jamming on the track after hearing Sam’s version, with
the other Dominos quickly joining in. Producer Tom Down, hearing what was
happening, barked to the engineer, “hit the goddam machine” to start the tape
rolling. They missed recording the beginning and the track clearly starts half
way through. Luckily it continues on for another nine minutes producing some of
the most magical blues rock you’re ever likely to hear. Another great blues
classic to feature on the Layla album is the Prohibition-era Nobody Know You
When You’re Down And Out, written as a vaudeville blues by Jimmy Cox ( born 1882
– died 1925) in 1923.
Eric Clapton (2nd left) was on fire in 1966
For
many, many years, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” was perhaps my
favourite album. Then Layla started getting played regularly on the radio, Eric
Clapton started experimenting with country and ballads, the masses discovered
him, and his blues spell was broken.
But
on Christmas Day I was once more transfixed by the blues guitar playing of early Eric Clapton. So we Spotified John Mayall’s
Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton album from 1966, when Eric was just 21. If you’ve
ever wondered what all the “Clapton Is God” graffiti was all about, check out
the original Blues Breakers album with the youthful Eric on lead guitar. Those really were the days when he and
his guitar were on fire and he first forged his reputation.
On
the subject of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, it would be remiss of me to pass
them by without mentioning just a few of the rock and blues luminaries who have
been members. There were Eric Clapton, of course, and Jack Bruce, who later
formed Cream. There were Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, who became
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, (the blues band who morphed into the later pop
band). 

There was Mick Taylor, later guitarist with the Rolling Stones; Andy
Fraser, later bass player for Free, and, travelling the other way, Harvey
Mandell, Walter Trout and Larry Taylor who left Canned Heat to join Mayall.

But
back to Derek and The Dominos: like the clichéd comet they lit up the
underground music scene

The brilliant Derek & The Dominos (l to r) Gordon, Radle, Whitlock, Clapton

(as it was called then) and burnt out.

They
were formed by ex-Delaney & Bonnie & Friends band members: Clapton,
guitar/vocals; Bobby Whitlock, keyboard/vocals/guitar, (who I later had the
pleasure of meeting when his solo album was released on the record label I
worked for); bassist, Carl Radle; and drummer, Jim Gordon. They were later
joined by the Allman Brothers’ founding guitarist, Duane Allman and Traffic
founding guitarist, Dave Mason.
After
just one album, though, they split while recording the follow-up in 1971, with
Eric Clapton retiring from music to nurse his heroin habit. That same year,
Duane Allman died in a motor cycle
accident, aged 24. Carl Radle died in 1980 of a kidney infection caused by
drugs and alcohol. Jim Gordon, an undiagnosed schizophrenic, killed his mother
with a hammer and was institutionalised in 1984.
Ironically,
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was regarded as a failure when it was first
released and sold poorly, even though for many of us, it was the ultimate rock
album of the era. Today, however, it is often listed as one of the best rock
albums ever recorded. If you have never heard this masterpiece, you simply must
give it a try.
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