I’ve been on a 70s jag recently. A little bit of ELO, a lot of Tom Petty, a little bit of Jackson Browne. I kind of hate Jackson Browne, so I’m unbelievably fussy about the songs I download, but he does have a really pleasant voice, and “Running on Empty” is such a great song.
So I was watching a truly terrible film, The Box, and I heard something on the soundtrack that pushed some buttons. Sounded 70s. Was followed on ST by “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band. So a quick Google later, I’d discovered it was “Bell Bottom Blues” from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
It may surprise you that, apart from the title track, I’d never heard any of this album.
I always liked “Layla” – not for the riff, not really for the song itself, but for the extended piano coda, which Radio Caroline at least used to play in full. Other radio stations tended to fade the song, I think.
So not only had I never heard it, but I never realised that the album never even made the charts in the UK (which fact is on both Wikipedia and Clapton’s official site).
So what’s it like? Muddy and gruff, in places. Don’t like that singing style. Some of guitar playing is good, but Clapton’s own guitar sounds thin on several tracks. I’m not keen on the blues so I only really like the poppier tracks like “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Anyway”, both of which are worth a download. Even those are marred, I think, by the muddy sound mix. Even compared to an Allman Bros record (with two drummers and two lead guitars), it doesn’t compare well. My ears have been spoiled by listening to country music.
Still, I’ve heard it now, 40 years on. But what does it say about the average British music fan that it didn’t even get in the charts? Not a recognisable brand? It suggests that music fandom is always more about peer pressure and wanting to impress people than it is about the music. Because it’s not that bad.
- Jackson Browne (musicofourheart.wordpress.com)
- Dierks Bentley, “Sideways.” Official Full Length Country Music Video. (top5gonewild.com)