Dominos Shows Every Clapton Fan Should Know
Where's Eric! is celebrating the legacy of Derek And The Dominos and the release of the 40th Anniversary Layla Editions with a series of exclusive feature articles and news through 26 April. This installment examines the Dominos shows every Clapton fan should know. It was compiled by our resident panel of Dominos experts, all long-time contributors to Where's Eric!.
Because of the strength of the Layla album, people sometimes forget that Derek and The Dominos were a fantastic live quartet. In August and October to December 1970, the band toured the UK and US, barely playing more than 60 shows. Miraculously, about 1/3 of them were captured by fans. Audience taping was still primitive in 1970, so the band was never recorded at the peak of their powers in top-notch quality by audience members. Still, these recordings are worth a listen to hear the intensity of the playing on those 'on' nights. Many of the tapes made their way on to bootleg records and CDs over the years (the better titles are listed). Today, much of the music circulates in digital format on the internet. So, turn on your lava lamp, adjust your ears to put up with some noise, hiss, echo and muffled vocals and give these shows a listen:
Marquee Club, London – 11 August 1970
This recording is from early in the UK Tour when the Dominos were running up and down the country trying to find places to play. The band is still getting to know each other on stage. They were pretty much playing all-new material, including several numbers from EC’s first solo album, a lightning-fast “Tell The Truth” (reminiscent of the Phil Spector produced single) along with “Anyday” and “Little Wing”, which they would record in a few weeks for Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. The recording first surfaced on the bootleg CD Roll It Over (Colosseum), but later became available in better quality on Marquee Club Gig (Tinker Bell) and the 3 CD set, Nightclubbing (Mid Valley). A remaster of the Tinker Bell version was released directly to the internet. The gig was professionally recorded, but the reel was lost. The only evidence is a track sheet found in the label’s storage facility.
Pavilion, Bournemouth – 19 August 1970
Along with the Marquee gig, this is the second show on the list that pre-dates Duane Allman’s influence on the band. The set is a bit different than the Marquee, but still top-heavy on first solo album material, including “Lonesome And A Long Way From Home”, “Let It Rain”, “Blues Power” and “Bottle Of Red Wine”. EC even revisits “Crossroads”. There’s a terrific “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and an extended version of “Bad Boy.” Bobby Whitlock’s playing is outstanding on “Anyday.” This is probably the best recording from the first leg of the UK Tour. Seek out Nightclubbing (Mid Valley), Anyday (Killing Floor) Ballroom Blitz (Silver Horse) or the 6CD box set, Feast Away (Zig Zag) to hear this show.
Electric Factory, Philadelphia PA – 16 October 1970
Duane Allman not only lifted the Layla sessions to a higher level, his influence carried over to the quartets’ live performances. An amazing concert recorded on the second US date, it paints a great portrait of the Dominos in the live arena. It has the earliest known version of “Motherless Children”, which would appear four years later on EC’s 461 Ocean Boulevard. There’s a jaw-dropping “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad,” amazing slide from Eric on “Ramblin’” and the rarely performed “Mean Old World.” The best source is The Majestic Stand (Mid Valley) but very good versions are also available on The Majestic Stand (Empress Valley; Mid Valley used the same title for their later release) or the box set Feast Away (Zig Zag).
Fillmore East, New York, NY – 23 and 24 October 1970 (Late Shows)
There’s a difference of opinion as to how these shows rate. Some fans say they’re the pinnacle, others don’t rate them musically. However, they are available in the the best audio quality by far of any Dominos gigs and essential for that reason alone. Both late shows are sourced from the master soundboard tapes and stand up to the official In Concert (1973) and Live At The Fillmore (1994) releases, both of which are incomplete. For the Deluxe and Super-Deluxe 40th Anniversary editions, In Concert was remastered and expanded. Of the dates, the 23rd is probably the better of the two playing-wise. It first surfaced on CD as Domino Theory Parts 1 and 2 (Silver Rarities). Later releases, such as Fillmore Double Night (Mid Valley) and Live At The Fillmore (Tarantura) collected them in 4 CD sets. There’s also a massive 10CD set, Complete Fillmore Tapes (Paddington), which has all of the known audience and soundboard sources for the gigs in varying quality. Digital versions of both late shows can be listened to at wolfgangsvault.com.
Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento CA – 17 November 1970
A great all-around show with a similar set list to October’s Fillmore East shows. With the November gigs, the band really kicked in to hyper-drive with faster tempos and more intense playing. Eric shines on “Stormy Monday.” Available on The Sun’s Got To Shine On My Guitar Someday (Silver Horse) and Keep On Growing (ECDR). The latter, an earlier release, sounds muddier.
Community Theater, Berkeley CA – 19 November 1970
Always a favorite; there are three sources of this show circulating. The show opens with a unique version of “Little Queenie”. A sixteen year old Neal Schon sits in with the Dominos and steals the show. Stand outs are “Little Wing, “Blues Power” and “Let It Rain” with phenomenal playing by Jim Gordon. “Mean Old World” makes a rare appearance in the set list. Check it out in the best quality on the three disc Affirmation (Scorpio), but Journeymen (ARMS) and Knights In Blue Denim (Mid Valley) are also quite good. The latter is missing “Little Queenie.” Affirmation also has the first Berkeley gig from 18 November.
Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica CA – 20 November 1970 (Afternoon and Evening Shows)
Essential as Delaney Bramlett guests at both performances. The shows are sloppier than some others and Delaney’s guitar totally overwhelms the rest of the band at the afternoon show. The evening show has better sound balance. The afternoon recording has a fiery “Got To Get Better In A Little While” and “Why Does Love” highlights Bobby Whitlock’s skills as a backing vocalist. EC and Delaney go to town on “Tell The Truth.” The evening show is more laid back with EC and Delaney dueling on “Blues Power.” At both shows, Delaney’s slide guitar adds an interesting counterpoint. The shows were released in good quality on The Majestic Stand (Mid Valley, Empress Valley) and in improved quality on Stormy Monday (Paddington). Paddington had access to a second generation tape source that surfaced after The Majestic Stand was released by both labels. The afternoon show is also out on the single disc Let’s Play Domino (Godfather Records). Using the Paddington disc, Godfather remixed it to better balance the guitars.
Henry W. Kiel Municipal Auditorium, St Louis MO – 27 November 1970
As fate would have it, some of the most tremendous playing by the band is captured on the worst Dominos’ audience recording in existence. But, it’s a terrific show from start to finish and therefore worthy of recognition. It features the first known live recording of “Layla.” A great “Blues Power” segues into “Stormy Monday” with terrific vocals from Bobby Whitlock. Even the bootleg’s liner notes say, “this show must rank among the best of these and deserves to be heard by all fans.” If you have the patience to listen, you’ll be rewarded. The only CD release, Speed Freaks, is from the Japanese bootleg label, Mid Valley. A fan-remaster was also released on the internet.
Music Hall, Cincinnati OH – 26 November 1970
For an audience recording of the time, the sound is extremely well balanced and ear-friendly. The playing is something else, blowing away the Fillmore nights a month earlier – this is the Dominos at the height of their powers. The show includes an R&B-influenced jam with B.B. King on “Everyday I Have The Blues”. It circulates in the best quality on Everyday We Play The Blues (Hi Watt) but G (Mid Valley) and Reverse G (Mid Valley) are also quite good. The difference between the latter two is that Reverse G is remastered, but the difference is minimal. If you only want one concert by the band, this is it.
Painters Mill Music Fair, Owings Mills MD – 29 November 1970
By this time in the US tour, you can hear how the band has evolved from the August UK dates. “Layla” opens the show and segues into “Bell Bottom Blues”. There are great takes on “Tell The Truth,” “Stormy Monday” and an up-tempo “Little Wing.” The source recording isn’t the best; check it out on Seven Pulsating Notes (Mid Valley) and Painters Mill Music Fair (Tinker Bell), which was remixed. It’s a toss-up as to which is better. There’s also another remaster from a low-generation reel that was released directly to the internet.
Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa FL – 1 December 1970
Two audience recordings capture one of the few times Duane Allman sat in with the Dominos at a live show. Duane’s not always in tune and it’s not the best playing from the band, but there’s some interesting interplay between EC and Duane to be heard. It also has the only known live recording of “Layla” with both guitarists. A listen shines a little light on the eternal question, “what if Duane became the 5th Domino rather than remain loyal to the band he co-founded?” The first source can be found on Mid Valley’s Soul Mates and the second source on the label’s Soul Mates 2, each with different bonus tracks. In The Sky Dog (ARMS) is from a second generation tape and very listenable. There’s also a direct-to-internet release which is a matrix of the two sources.
Capitol Theatre, Porchester NY – 5 December 1970 (Early Show)
“Terrific” doesn’t sum up the early show at the Capitol Theatre. “Stormy Monday” and “Crossroads” are highlights. An intense “Tell The Truth” really highlights the band’s ensemble playing; Jim Gordon is a monster behind the kit and 5 minutes in, EC cuts loose and really lets it fly for the next 11 minutes. Many rank it as the best live version of “Tell The Truth” ever captured. The tape wobbles a bit, but it’s still a very good audience recording for the time. Check out the 3CD The Beat Goes On (Zeus), which also has the longer length recording of the late show, Feast Away (Zig Zag) or LSD – Last Stand Dominos (Mid Valley).
Suffolk Community College, Selden NY – 6 December 1970
This turned out to be the Dominos’ last live performance and it’s captured on a very good audience recording. The band is tight and Eric is at the top of his game. “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” and “Tell The Truth” are standouts, but “Stormy Monday” and “Blues Power” (which segues into a stunning “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”) are also top drawer. Check it out on Feast Away (Zig Zag) and LSD – Last Stand Dominos (Mid Valley).
Territories outside of North America, including the U.K., saw the release of all digital and physical 40th Anniversary editions the week of 21 March. All versions were released in Canada on 29 March. The U.S. has staggered release dates that started on 29 March. On that date, all digital versions, the single CD remaster, and the two LP vinyl became available at all music retailers. Additionally, Best Buy has the double CD deluxe edition as an exclusive from that date. Finally, on 26 April, the super-deluxe box set hits the streets at all U.S. retailers. On that same date, they will also have the double CD set available for sale.
Don't forget ... even the forthcoming issue of Where's Eric! Magazine (#42) will be getting in on the Layla action with a series of exclusive articles on Derek And The Dominos and their classic album. Want to know more about Where's Eric! Magazine and learn how to subscribe? CLICK HERE
Whereseric.com's online Derek And The Dominos / Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs Celebration will continue through 26 April, so keep checking back for more exclusive articles. Here's what you may have missed so far:
From Blind Faith To Derek And The Dominos: 16 Pivotal Months In Eric Clapton’s Career
BBC Radio 2: Johnnie Walker's Sounds Of The 70s Celebrates Layla's 40th
Layla: Forty Years On - Listen To The Radio Special On The WE! Website
New Derek And The Dominos 7" Single For Record Store Day 2011
Layla's 40th: The Where's Eric! Interview With Bill Levenson
Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs: 40th Anniversary Editions Due This Month (with preview video animation)
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