This performance, this recording, these songs are musical history at it’s finest. Duane Allman only joined Derek and the Dominos twice in concert and this is the first show he appeared with them. He would go on to join them the following day at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York. Recordings supposedly exist from that show as well but they are reportedly of a very low quality. However thankfully someone with a decent recorder was there in Tampa to record these two guitar legends at work at the Curtis Hixon Hall, and boy are we grateful for it.
Duane joined the band in the studio after the Dominos saw The Allman Brothers Band perform in Miami on the 26th August 1970, and the album that came from those studio sessions is now considered one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s fitting that the band open with a roaring rendition of Layla with Duane absolutely on fire. The band had played the song a number of times before this show but those performances, although good, are nowhere near the intensity of this particular rendition. Duane makes the song, there’s no doubt about that. After all he was the one who came up with the guitar riff we all know and love, having taking inspiration from the Albert King song As The Years Go Passing By. It’s interesting to note that out of the recordings that exist of the Dominos, they played Layla at least twice before this show, yet those two recordings previously lasted no longer than 6 minutes. This, however, goes beyond the 8 minute mark. Eric and Duane had some fun up there for sure.
Got To Get Better In A Little While is a song that didn’t feature on the Layla album but was first debuted live. Duane’s lead slide guitar really fits the song well, especially considering he presumably hadn’t played the song before this show. It’s one of my personal favourite Dominos songs and it’s taken to a new height by Duane. That’s a pattern too, because he took the studio songs that he appeared on to completely different level as well. Next up is an Albert King style version of Key To The Highway which is much different to the version that appeared on the Layla album, a version which the band had played live most of the time before this concert. The bass in particular here sound divine with Carl Radle playing that gorgeous riff and Bobby Whitlock playing off him on keys.
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? is arguably one of the highlights of the Layla album and it’s great to hear Duane soar on this one. Again, the Dominos had played this at pretty much every gig (at least after their 1st leg of their UK tour) before this show but you can just feel the chemistry pouring out of the speakers when you listen to this. Clocking in at just over 16 minutes, it’s an absolute joy to hear Eric and Duane’s interweaving guitar playing. You can’t help but wish you could have witnessed this performance yourself.
- Got To Get Better In A Little While
- Key To The Highway
- Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?
- Blues Power
- Have You Ever Loved A Woman
- Bottle Of Red Wine
- Let It Rain
Blues Power and Have You Ever Loved A Woman come next, the former being a brilliant blues rocker originally from Clapton’s debut self-titled album and the latter a beautiful slow blues that featured on the Layla album. The Dominos play these two songs as a medley, wonderfully blending the two songs together effortlessly. Blues Power sounds great, as it always did when the Dominos played it live, but Have You Ever Loved A Woman contains some of the best playing of the show without a shadow of a doubt. For those familiar with The Allman Brothers Band, you can hear a few riffs Duane used on Stormy Monday when playing with his band. These two songs combined add up to about 25 minutes of non-stop playing and at no point during that time do you hear the band getting tired. With just short of 5 minutes left of Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Eric and Duane trade guitar licks while the band stop to let them work their magic. You can sense everyone in the room watching these two guitar greats like nothing else in the world at that point mattered. And that’s the feeling I get when listening to it. Outstanding.
Bottle Of Red Wine, another song from Clapton’s self titled debut, comes next and that’s followed by the final song, Let It Rain, again from Clapton’s debut. Just like a few of the other songs in the set, Duane presumably didn’t know these songs well before taking the stage but in no way would you think it. The entire set has been building and building with Let It Rain the final musical explosion.
This is just an incredible show in every sense of the word. The tightness of the band, the level of musicianship and improvisation (in my opinion) outshone every other band at the time with the exception of The Allman Brothers Band. Everyone will focus on Eric and Duane when listening to this show but it’s important to think about the entire band. Bobby Whitlock on keys and backing vocals, Carl Radle on bass and Jim Gordon on drums. That’s what you call a band and with the addition of Duane on guitar alongside Eric this was only going to be something special, something unique that only the people present could truly cherish. As I said at the start of this entry, Duane would go on to join the band the following night in Syracuse, New York, but this is the gig that is talked about most. A recording of that Syracuse show allegedly exists but it’s quality and authenticity are regularly questioned.
What’s sad though is this would be the 6th to last show the Dominos would ever play together. Their last show was on the 6th December 1970 at Suffolk College, Selden, New York. During their brief career (the band only played 61 shows in total) the level of music only increased as time went on. They would reconvene in 1971 for initial album sessions for their planned 2nd album but these sessions would be torn apart by drugs and left to smoulder in the dirt. Duane didn’t join them on these sessions, who knows if his presence would have improved the situation. But at least we have recordings like these to listen back to.