Clapton Unplugged - Layla

On Eric Claptons Unplugged album, he does his remake of Layla. He tunes it down to a 1/2 speed, slow song.

At the beginning, he says “Lets see if you can spot this one”. I don’t even think he was through the first 2 bars, and the audience starts going nuts and cheering like the knew what it was.

How could they actually know what it was that he was playing? I had no idea as to what song it was until I started listening to the lyrics, and even then he was probably, oh, 20 or so seconds into the song.

The intro sounds like it is the original chord progression slowed down and played on acoustic. If you are a major Clapton fan, and you would be if you are at Unplugged, and you are paying extra close attention because he just challenged you to spot it, then you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

Of course, if I were there, and I didn’t figure it out, I’d probably start cheering anyway just make everyone think I did.

Since they usually shoot more then one take of every song that is on an Unplugged show, it’s highly likely that the audience had already heard the song at least once.

It didn’t take me 20 seconds to know what song it was, I knew 1/2 through the first bar.

Hully Gully’s theory is what I was thinking as well… more than one take.

While we’re on the subject, does anyone else feel that the Unplugged version of “Layla” was severelt lacking? I know he was going for a different feel (which he acheived) from the original, but I’ve always felt the the original has so much more life and passion to it. The Unplugged version just sucks all of that out of the song, leaving it very dry and flat for my taste,

Mind you, I’m a Clapton fan, but for the most part I like his older work. His music for Edge of Darkness is hard to find, but worth the effort.

Not me; I thought it was a beautiful rendition - a retelling, if you will.

I agree. Maybe it has to do with the situation the song was written about being so far in the past, that now it’s more bittersweet? Like maybe the new version is supposed to be all reflective and stuff. I like the “rockin’” version way better, especially the piano coda.

I thought it had a jazzy beat to it. Very different from the original version (which has one of the best guitar opening riffs in recording history).

I like the extended guitar solo at the end.

That said, I would like to point out some irony here. Just yesterday, I was thinking of this topic while listening to the original version.

I too was amazed at the speed at which certain members of the audience “named that tune” or at least pretended to (would’ve been embarassing if he had stopped and asked those responding positively to name it!)

And you just KNOW there is a some guy out there who was the “YEAH!” guy at the show that night who bores the heck out of everyone he knows by bragging ENDLESSLY that HE was the one who spotted it first.


I prefer the original for the sole reaoson that it’s one of the best songs to air guitar to.

The original is by far the best! I don’t like when Clapton gets slow and mushy. Rock or blues…none of this “easy listening” crap. I have my standards.

The Unplugged rendition of “Layla” is actually a lot closer to the original version of the song than is the eventual Derek and the Dominos hit version.

Clapton added a riff borrowed from T-Bone Walker to the beginning of his initial version of “Layla” – this then became one of the most famous riffs in rock music. After that, D&D drummer Jim Gordon came up with the piano coda, making Gordon’s contribution one of the most effective throw-ins in rock-and-roll history. These changes yielded the version most all rock fans know and love.

Anyway, it’s possible that Clapton (depending on his backing musicians on any given tour) had performed “Layla” more in line with the seminal version before 1991’s Unplugged performance. Perhaps some of the Unplugged audience had heard “Layla” performed in its initial version – maybe on concert bootlegs.

Clapton also recorded a live version of “Layla” on the benefit album A.R.M.S. Concert, Pt. 2. I don’t know if this version of “Layla” differs much from the D&D version, but perhaps some hardcore Clapton fans had heard it and it somehow made the Unplugged version easier to peg. Perhaps not.

Beg your pardon, but Duane Allman added that riff. And it’s actually borrowed from Freddie King. But bordelond is correct that Clapton’s original intent was for Layla to be a slow song. I think the Unplugged version is alright (and it does feature the excellent Chuck Leavell), but I wouldn’t say it holds a candle to the original.

You are absolutely correct – my mistake. Thomas Ryan’s masterwork American Hit Radio details Allman and Clapton’s collaboration on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, and credits Allman correctly. Being that I own that books and have read it cover-to-cover dozens of times, I should have known better.

Seems to depend on who you ask. Maybe it’s one of those been-around-forever riffs?

It’s possible - I’ve just never heard anyone suggest it was Walker before. I actually misspoke anyway: I’ve only heard one person identify the actual song in question. I’m told it was “As the Years Go Passing By,” as performed by Albert King. Supposedly the riff is played under the words “There is nothing I can do,” the first line to the song. So if you’ve got it handy, that might take care of things.

T-Bone Walker vs. Freddie King or even Albert King - it doesn’t make much. T-Bone is the brilliant originator electric blues guitar and the father of all Texas electric blues guitarists, including Gatemouth Brown, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and, yes, Freddie King. So Freddie was hugely influenced by T-Bone, and therefore even if the riff came from Freddie, he got it from T-Bone in a roundabout way. But I am curious if there is a specific riff from a specific song that is generally considered to be the source of the Layla riff.

ooops, you beat me to the post Marley23 - I don’t have that particular Albert King song in my collection, but am interested if someone can provide the Straight Dope firsthand…

I have several friends who thought the “unplugged” version was the best. Not me. The R&R track from Derek and the Dominoes blows its doors off. Duane Allman’s slide work plus Clapton in his prime makes for a hard to beat combination. The acoustic version bled all life from the song.

I’ll take the Derek and the Dominos version over the uplugged version.

On the Unplugged album, there are those who ‘spot’ it after the first couple of chords. There are more people who ‘spot’ it after he starts singing the lyrics. There is one slowpoke who hoots after he starts singing the chorus. Not everyone in the audience caught on so quickly.

FTR, I prefer the D&theD version, but I don’t dislike the unplugged version either.

The Unplugged version has a much bluesier feel to it then the original did, in fact I think it could be called a straight blues song in it’s Unplugged configuration.