This staple of classic rock radio has been around so long it’s hard to believe that it is just reaching its fortieth birthday. Rolled out once again in a nice double disc package, complete with nice liners and photographs, this may not be the definitive version of this evergreen, but it will certainly foot the bill for all but the most diehard fan. Eric Clapton’s legendary reticence to assume the leadership position in a solo career and his unrequited love for the wife of George Harrison led him to form an extraordinary band, and drawing deeply on the blues and soul create one of the masterpieces of rock era. While the incendiary title cut and the accompanying piano coda get most of the classic rock airplay, there are other tracks on the LP that deserve considerable attention. Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” benefits from anguished vocals and superb backup to excellent effect, Clapton has rarely played the blues with more authority. He dips into the blues again with a jaunty version of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway” and the anguished “Have You Ever Loved a Woman.” The original compositions are hardly a letdown, with the blasting rockers “Got to Get Better in a Little While” and cathartic “Why Does Love Go to Be So Sad” demonstrates. Disc two of the set is a bit of a mixed bag of outtakes and live performances, but there are some real gems, especially Carl Perkins joining the group for an incendiary “Matchbox” from the Johnny Cash television program. Classic rock fans may look askance at having to buy this album once again, but rock ‘n’ roll fans who have yet to meet its acquaintance. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs [2 CD 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] - amazon.com
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