Though most credit Eric Clapton with the Derek & the Dominos band, Bobby Whitlock was actually co-founder and co-writer of many of the group's songs, as well as a lead singer, guitarist, and keyboardist; in other words, his contribution was HUGE, and once you hear Carnival, the emphasis becomes all the more apparent. Teamed up with singer-saxist-guitarist-writer CoCo Carmel, his wife of eight years, this CD revivifies Whitlock's legacy. After touring with Delaney & Bonnie and after the Dominos tumbled, he issued four LPs in the 70s, none of which took off, and then laid low for the 80s and 90s, re-appearing at the turn of the millennium with It's About Time (1999). In the 14 year interim, six more CDs have issued, this being the 7th, as well as an autobiography co-written with Marc Roberty.
Over the years, it rapidly becomes obvious, Whitlock has lost none of his rough gravelly energy ('n the lucky sonofabitch looks like he's aged hardly a day), exuberance, or dense writing style, as the two cuts written by he and Carmel, and two others penned solely by him, could have come straight out of his solo work way back when. In fact, the team-up with his wife is very reminiscent of Delaney & Bonnie, and Carmel, with whom I'd not been previously familiar (but who, it turns out, is ex-wife to Delaney Bramlett), is a talent of her very own, a strong singer and tasty saxist. On evidence of their work on Carnival, I'd say he and she have a whole new career ahead of them and shouldn't be timid of capitalizing on it to the hilt. It was a shame to lose Whitlock's talents for two decades, and, though this review of past excellences is very much wanted and needed, a rebirth would be just as toothsome.
Carnival showcases the Dominos work first and foremost, then all the rest, but it's that 'all the rest' that most interests me now. I have Bobby's 70s LPs, they form a side pool of what was going on in the day, but his work here surpasses that, and Carmel brings a new dimension to everything, refreshing her husband's thick swampy Southern bluesrock with a bit more jazz and sass (and, boys, she's awfully easy on the eyes, of an ilk with Ana Popovic). Good artists never die or fade, they re-invent themselves, and it appears that's exactly what Bobby Whitlock is gearing up to do.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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