A little history, for the uninitiated; on the 9th November 1970, a certain young guitarist called Eric Clapton and his blues/rock band Derek and the Dominoes released their first (and only) studio album, ‘Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs’. Despite Clapton’s latter-day ‘elder statesman of guitar’ status, the album flopped commercially – despite the critics’ favour – with the now-ubiquitous title-track not even managing to struggle its way into the charts until March 1972.
This, then, is a full, live reworking of that classic album by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, with the addition of Trey Anastasio, the singer/guitarist from Vermont’s Phish, recorded at the LOCKN’ Music Festival in Arrington, Virginia, on 24th August 2019. Now, if ever there was an award for ‘best country blues slide player’, Derek Trucks would have to be up alongside Duane Allman pretty near the top of the list, and this is no exception to that rule. Add in the cosmic music-world kismet of Susan Tedeschi having been born on – you guessed it – the 9th November 1970, and the Clapton fans Chris and Debbie Trucks having named their newborn son Derek in honour of the Dominoes, and you have a pretty inescapable recipe for a killer live album.
And that’s exactly what we have here; Trucks’ sublime SG-driven slidework and some stunning bluesy leadwork from Trey Anastasio, all married to Susan Tedeschi’s smooth, whiskey-mellow vocals, and a bunch of players – including Anastasio, who interweaves beautifully throughout with Tedeschi – additional vocalists Gabe Dixon, Mike Mattison, and Doyle Bramhall, Tyler Greenwell’s beautiful less-is-more drumming, the wandering groove of Brandon Boone’s bass, and the horn section of Williams, Ownes, and Lea – all taking the 70’s tracks and at once adding their own touches whilst remaining, always, honest and respectful to the original source material.
The final track from the album, ‘Thorn Tree In The Garden’, rather than being played live – the band deciding there was no better way to end the live set than with the title track – is a soulful, studio acoustic working from Trucks and Tedeschi, which rounds out the album perfectly.
It’s a masterful record, showing a group of players at the absolute top of their game paying homage to one of the classic albums of the last fifty-odd years.