REVIEW: Bobby Whitlock – Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: The ABC-Dunhill Recordings

I’ve been after Bobby Whitlock’s first two solo albums for quite some time now so to have them remastered in one set is an absolute joy. This is the first time that both albums have been released on CD format and I believe the last time they were released at all since 1972! I’ve had the pleasure to interview Bobby in the past where we discussed the blues in great depth. I am also in love with Derek and the Dominos, a band he co-founded in 1970 with Eric Clapton, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon and I knew that all the other Dominos featured in some way or another on these two albums. As you could imagine, I was excited to finally hear these songs!

The first track Where There’s A Will is 100% Dominos in terms of style and sound. It’s unmistakable and would have easily fit on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Most of these song were actually recorded during the Dominos aborted second album sessions so it was only natural that they sounded the way they did. What’s exciting is that these tracks also include performances from a vast array of musicians including George Harrison, Bobby Keys, Klaus Voorman and Jim Price.

Song For Paula and A Game Called Life are two acoustic driven songs full of beautiful melodies you expect from Bobby. They’re beautiful songs and the instrumentation is fantastic. Next up, Country Life, is a song Bobby performed live the Derek and the Dominos in a number of early shows in UK when they were still rehearsing and writing together. It was sadly never recorded by the band even though it’s a great song so I’m glad it ended up on Bobby’s first solo album. This version has more of a country feel to it than the Dominos live version, but the flavour and atmosphere remain the same. A definite highlight of this two album collection for sure. A Day Without Jesus is a fantastic gospel style ballad which features both Delaney and Bonnie on backing vocals. Bobby has many feathers in his cap musically and it’s great to hear so many music styles.

The Scenery Has Slowly Changed features one of Bobby’s most powerful vocal performances on the album. He sounds fantastic and this is another song which would have fit beautifully on a Dominos album. It’s very reminiscent of Thorn Tree In The Garden in a way. Cracking song. It’s important to note that Bobby plays a lot of guitar on these recordings, showing everyone how much of an accomplished guitarist he is. The Dreams Of A Hobo shows this in the bucket load with some very intricate and delicate acoustic guitar playing. He also plays electric guitar with Back Home In England being a good example of this. The song also features The L.A. Symphony Orchestra and Jim Gordon on drums and is a beautiful ending to his first solo album.

Bobby Whitlock (Tracks 1-10)

Raw Velvet (Tracks 11-21)

  1. Where There’s A Will
  2. Song For Paula
  3. A Game Called Life
  4. Country Life
  5. A Day Without Jesus
  6. Back In My Life Again
  7. The Scenery Has Slowly Changed
  8. I’d Rather Live The Straight Life
  9. The Dreams Of A Hobo
  10. Back Home In England
  11. Tell The Truth
  12. Bustin’ My Ass
  13. Write You A Letter
  14. Ease Your Pain
  15. If You Ever
  16. Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham
  17. You Came Along
  18. Thing About It
  19. Satisfied
  20. Dearest I Wonder
  21. Start All Over

The second album (from track 11), Raw Velvet, starts with a version of the Derek and the Dominos song Tell The Truth which Bobby originally co-wrote with Clapton. The song was always a live highlight with the Dominos and it’s fantastic to hear a different version here. Raw Velvet is split in to two sections, a raw first half and a more laid back second half hence the album title. Bustin’ My Ass and Write You A Letter feature some outstanding guitar work and Bobby is on fire vocally. If You Ever and Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham are two of my favourite tracks from Raw Velvet, both encompassing crunching guitar work.

I’m more of a fan of the ‘raw’ side of this album but the ‘velvet’ side features some great songs, especially Think About It and Dearest I Wonder with the latter almost sounding like a George Harrison song. I’m unsure on which musicians played on this track but it definitely sounds like it could have been Harrison on the slide guitar.

Overall this is a fine collection of songs which definitely needed to be released sooner rather than later. For fans of Derek and the Dominos it’s seriously wonderful to hear these songs both for the talent that is Bobby Whitlock but also to hear what a second album may have sounded like if things hadn’t have gone sour. I love this collection of songs, I really do. It’s about time that more people knew Bobby Whitlock because I think he is criminally underrated and deserves far more recognition. He’s a huge talent.

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