WHERE THERES A WILL, THERES A WAY - THE ABC DUNHILL RECORDINGS
Future Days (FDR602)
Where There's A Will, Song For Paula, A Game Called Life, The Scenery Has Slowly Changed, Tell The Truth, Write You A Letter, If You Ever, Ease Your Pain, You Came Along, Satisfied, Start All Over and more.
This well presented package includes the first two solo albums (Bobby Whitlock and Raw Velvet) recorded in the early 1970s at a time when Bobby Whitlock had become a ‘go-to' musical collaborator for many of the emerging rock aristocracy at the time.
He first appeared in Memphis in the mid to late sixties as a friend of Booker T And The MGs and others at Stax studios and it was through this connection that he soon hooked up with Delaney & Bonnie, and through them to Eric Clapton, George Harrison and The Rolling Stones.
Indeed, the first of the two albums contained on this CD was largely put together following his contributions to Harrison's All Things Must Pass album and during his time with Clapton as a fellow member of the short-lived but historic Derek And The Dominos.
With both Harrison and Clapton helping out on the sessions for this album, alongside fellow Dominos Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon, it is not surprising that what emerged contained echoes of what was be found on All Things Must Pass and Layla And Assorted Love Songs.
The most impressive feature of these re-issued albums listening to them now is the way in which the various musical influences and touchstones integrated so well. Alongside Whitlock's own background in southern rock, gospel and blue-eyed soul, there are the blues and pop sensibilities that Harrison and Clapton are likely to have helped foster and encourage. Also, at the time these albums were put together, Whitlock shared Harrison and Clapton's reverence for the music of The Band and many of the qualities found on The Band and Music From The Big Pink albums are very much in evidence here.
Favourite tracks include the opening Where There's A Will, a full-on southern rocker with Clapton chipping in with some fine slide guitar (presumably taught to him by Duane Allman when they were together in Derek And The Dominos), the ethereal A Game Called Life enhanced by the flute of Chris Wood (of Traffic), the shambolic country vibe of I'd Rather Live The Straight Life, and the white gospel of A Day Without Jesus.
While very much of its time, this consistently excellent CD ought well appeal to those with a certain amount of sentiment invested in the period these albums were recorded. For me, the Layla album of Derek And The Dominos was Clapton's finest moment by a country mile and Whitlock was clearly a major contributor to that. This CD helps however demonstrate that perhaps he was under-rated at the time as an artist in his own right.
Review Date: July 2013