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  Derek & The Dominos: Layla

Derek & The Dominos
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Related titles: 2

Reviews: 18 show all

Review by JW November 24, 2004 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Anticipating the arrival of my SA-CD, I thought I re-familiarize myself with the 20th Anniversary Edition RBCD. Within the well publicised recording limitations I find this CD performs admirably, especially as opposed to the earlier non-remastered version (though this from memory and I can't remember which version I have - it's in the other house, 15.000 miles away, so I can't look :-). The extreme muddiness of the earlier CD's is something I remember well. And the 20 Ann. Edition cleans up the sound significantly. In fact I find it surprisingly listenable - the treble is not harsh and the soundstage and instrument separation overall pretty good. The treble is rolled off which in this case is probably better otherwise the RBCD would have been unlistenable. Guitars stand out and have sufficient weight. Clapton's voice is recessed at times, but not absolutely burried in the mix. And this of course varies track by track. Clapton seems to turn away from the mike a lot on many tracks. Look, this ain't no sonic wonder, but the 20th Ann. Edition RBCD has an organic (dare I say analog) feel to it that, despite its limitations, makes it an interesting listening experience. I am looking forward to the new effort on SA-CD... Fast forward about 10 days . . . .

SA-CD is in the house today. And yes, it's the best Layla I have ever heard. And it's also somewhat strange, almost alienating, to hear the album like this. For many many years we have been accustomed to the muddy, crunchy and piercing sound of Layla. And now that's more or less gone. We have taken a number of important steps forward, bringing us closer to the original event. This will never be an 'audiophile disc' though. There is more weight, more space and more detail. Less mud, less congestion and less crunchiness to the sound. Higher level as well (to level match the SA-CD with the RBCD I have to turn my volume about a '5 minute-increment' back). I feel more involved in the recording than ever before. Switching between layers emphasizes that. The CD layer is fine but cannot match the hi-rez layer for sheer musical involvement, expansiveness and space. You can hear so much more on this SA-CD. The voices are less burried and the guitars have more space around them. As I said, I find myself getting into this music more and more. The fact that the sound allows you to hear deeper into the recording just gets you 'there'. On 'Nobody Knows You etc' I feel that there is someone playing in my right speaker. Clapton's voice is distant and slightly off center. A bit strange, but interesting. Compare that to the same track on the 20th Ann. Edition RBCD - that mix has everything dead center. The SA-CD is the original mix, so I guess it is what it is and the RBCD has been re-mastered and a few new choices were made to create a certain sound. On the SA-CD's 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman' the guitar is more attached to the voice in the center. The recording has a few of these peculiarities. The drums seem to wander around a bit at times. On many tracks I just want to call out; "Eric, will you PUH-LEEZE stop walking way from that microphone!". On 'Key To The Highway' Duane Allman can be heard left of center, slightly recessed into the background, while Clapton pops up again into the right speaker. But this is such great music. Who cares.

Does the SA-CD shame the RBCD referenced above? Interestingly enough I still like the 20 Ann. Edition RBCD. When I re-read my review after having listened to a few tracks on that CD and switching to the SA-CD, I can still affirm the sentiments I expressed 10 days before.

So. Three stars or five ? How to rate this SA-CD ? I tend to rate SA-CD's against an imaginary median - some construct I have in my mind about how all the SA-CD's I own sound in my system. Hopelessly flawed. Sure. But this is not science. Against this vague notion the Layla disc should be a three star I guess. On the other hand this is the best Layla ever. It gets you close to the original, warts and all. It's very involving and it does justice to the great music. I think I'll add both ratings up and split it: 4 stars.

(btw this is a 2CH review only, have no MCH)

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Review by FivePointOne November 11, 2004 (8 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Niiiiiice. Finally a "Layla..." that sounds like we all KNEW it should. I picked this up from my local Borders (only 1 copy at this Houston store, go figure) and "previewed" the redbook version in my car on the drive home. I was impressed with the sound quality and its improvement over earlier versions. Then I popped it into my SACD player at home and, MAMA, it sounds sweet. True separation between Clapton's guitars and Duane's, clearer keyboards, drums and cymbals you could actually hear as opposed to the squelchy stuff from earlier versions.

This has a very tasteful 5.1 surround mix. Nothing too flashy, but you know it is there. I've had various versions of this disc, and this one takes the cake. This is Clapton's best stuff.

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Review by CaryGrant March 15, 2006 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I agree that this is not a great sounding SACD, compared to others available. Probably better than the CD, but that's not saying much. I found the sound muddy, lacking whatever-it-is that helps one connect with the music. I thought it was just a poor original recording, but upon reading the other reviews...perhaps not. I have a Creek 5350 amp and B&W 602s, so my system reveals detail nicely - or lack of. With this SACD, we're back to spending $20-30 for a couple of decent songs.

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