Andy Johns recently got to hear—and mix—
some Derek and the Dominos tracks that have
never been released. Some of his work will be in
the upcoming box set.
“The unreleased Dominos tracks are all
post ‘Layla,’” says Johns. “I turned 21 in the
studio, and Eric said, ‘Your birthday present
is that you’re co-producer with me.’ I
immediately went, ‘Cha-ching.’ The problem
was, he fi red the whole band a week
later! So the music just sat there for years
and years. Pete Townshend
tried to finish it, and then
Tommy Dowd tried to finish
it, but it never got done.
“Then, I got a phone
call last November asking
if I wanted to mix some of
these Derek and the Dominos
tracks for the box set. So I pulled this
stuff up, and it was just like being there
again—like time had stopped. I’d forgotten
just how wonderful we could be on 8-track,
because you had to commit. There was no
fixing it in the mix—although, of course,
I did do a bit of that—so you had to get
it right while it was going down. Bloody
“Eric had played some fantastic stuff
on the original sessions. He was actually
in fine fettle—even though he was
having a small problem with certain substances.
He was singing well, and playing
great Dobro. At the time, I had recently
‘invented’ reverse echo. I mean, I’m sure
someone had done it before. You just turn
the tape reel upside down, put some echo
on another track, and then turn the tape
back the right way. I had done it on Zeppelin
III, so I think I invented it. I also used
it with Eric on some distorted echo stuff.
He played the same note six times, and
the effect stayed with me all these years.
And when I pulled up these tracks, there
it was—just as I remembered it. Wonderful,
“I was trying to get Eric to play through
Marshall stacks, but he was fixated on this
one sound, which I’ve never seen anyone
else use. He was playing his Stratocaster
through a Fender Champ,
which would go face down
on the top of this Leslie cabinet.
And the Leslie would
go ‘swirsy swirsy,’ and you’d
mic up one side. The whole
record was done like that.
He was very enamored of
that sound for a year or so, and it was a
really great tone. I think ‘Let It Rain’ uses
that sound, as well.
“On the Derek and the Dominos box set,
I’m credited as co-producer on the tracks I
worked on, but I don’t think I honestly did
that much. I wasn’t prepared to tell Eric
what to do in those days.”
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