It’s that time of year for holiday cheer and unwrapping presents—hopefully anything in either chrome or black. Traditionally it’s also a good time to reconnect with old friends, which is what some of us have been doing here at your favorite mag, courtesy of a plethora of music releases to road test. This February’s reviews focus on blasts from the pasts; made better in the form of “Deluxe” versions, which adds additional material to seminal albums many of us already own. While we may unfortunately never see Harley reissuing a limited edition, special run of ’51 Panheads, record companies have no such problem. So we’re finally catching up on special deluxe versions of albums by Nirvana, The Allman Brothers, Tom Petty, The Who, and Derek & The Dominos. And just in time if you have a little holiday cash left over. So if it’s a fix of classic rock ’n’ roll you need, as Neil said, “…rock and roll will never die…”
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Deluxe Edition
Derek and the Dominos
Duane Allman of course first made his mark as a session player. And he was one of the first to whom Eric Clapton turned to when he conceived of the Derek and the Dominos project (a name they hurriedly concocted before their first show). Formed from the remnants of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Clapton gathered Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, and Carl Radle in the spring of 1970, intending it be a blues side project and an escape from the infamous infighting in Delaney & Bonnie. Eric Clapton had already reached superstar status when the group finally went into the studio after a short tour. Duane contributed his slide guitar parts and Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was born. Produced by the legendary Tom Dowd (The Allman Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Cream, Eagles, Otis Redding, et al.), the album came at a time when Clapton was attempting to lay low from his Cream and Blind Faith projects, otherwise the group could have easily been titled Eric Clapton and Friends. The epic “Layla” of course was the album’s centerpiece, which paired nicely with “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Little Wing” (added as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix), and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”
The Deluxe Version adds a second CD of bonus material. The good stuff comes in the form of “Roll It Over” produced by Phil Spector and featuring George Harrison and Dave Mason during the All Things Must Pass project. And there are stunning versions of “Blues Power” and “Matchbox,” taken from The Johnny Cash Show (TV series) with added cameos by Cash and Carl Perkins (Quick! Go check out the YouTube video of this!).
Nevermind, Deluxe Edition
Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the release of Nirvana’s second album—the epic Nevermind, which registered a 10.0 on the Richter scale of rock ’n’ roll albums. Like the launch of the first Electra Glide, Nevermind’s impact on the emerging alternative/grunge movement was monumental. In the past few decades, perhaps only the debut of Napster was a bigger event for the music industry. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Kris Novoselic likely didn’t set out to change the face of rock ’n’ roll, but when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was first unleashed on unsuspecting radio listeners, the audience had a choice. It could either continue with the pop status quo or go down the louder, intense path of this “new” sound. A similar choice faced music audiences when the Beatles first emerged—and both changed conventional notions about music. In fact, 1991 was a very good year for music as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Metallica, and U2 all had breakout albums. But for an all too brief period, Nirvana captured everyone’s attention.
On the expanded edition of Nevermind we get to hear producer Butch Vig’s rejected version of the album. Plus there’s a full live Halloween concert circa 1991 from Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. A “super” Deluxe Version includes the DVD of the concert too.