05 October 2010

Treasure Worth Waiting For: The Layla Sessions, "Mean Old World"

Eric Clapton, Carl Radle and Duane Allman (circa 1970)

As much as I loved the vinyl era I grew up in, the space limitations of an LP left a lot of excellent music unreleased. Great artists were quite often recording more songs than would fit on an album. Double albums were often risky propositions, and triple albums simply were not considered marketable.

I can't think of a better example of a superlative track that didn't make the original double album is Derek and the Dominoes' Mean Old World, an acoustic slide duet recorded by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman during The Layla Sessions in 1970, but not released until almost twenty years later.

A little blues rock history: Clapton and Allman cover Little Walter's version of Mean Old World. Mean Old World was first recorded by T-Bone Walker in 1942. Little Walter recorded his substantially reinterpreted version in 1957. (The liner notes to The Layla Sessions indicate that the Clapton/Allman cover is of Little Walter's version.)

This is a song that reached out and grabbed me the first time I heard it and every time since. I still remember the first time I heard it; I asked myself "Damn, how did this not make it onto the original Layla album?" I'd rank it as my favorite modern acoustic blues recording.

Thank goodness for box sets, eh? The two listed below give me the chance to let you hear this classic.

Mean Old World
Derek and the Dominoes, The Layla Sessions (1990)
Eric Clapton, Crossroads (1988)


whiteray said...

This is a sweet piece of music, indeed. It was also included on the first Duane Allman Anthology, and, as such, puts me back in the lounge of the youth hostel in Denmark.

Thanks for the memory.

Paullinator said...

Thanks Jim. I love old T-Bone songs.

Anonymous said...


Paco Malo said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, really. And whether or not you agree with my views stated here, whiteray and the Paullinator, two people whose judgment I truly trust, give this one a thumbs up.

Very truly yours,

Paco Malo