Where There’s A Will There’s A Way: The ABC-Dunhill Recordings
LightInTheAttic/Future Days Recordings
This reissue/anthology puts together the first two Bobby Whitlock solo albums – out of print, forgotten, underappreciated – it’s the perfect LightInTheAttic reissue then. And there’s so much to take in here across a single disc, 21 tracks that remind of the power of Whitlock’s voice – both from behind the mic and as a songwriter.
And for all the talk of Clapton being influenced, outside of the blues, by Delaney and Bonnie and The Band and Winwood/Traffic he certainly took a lot from Whitlock. Here we’re shown Bobby was so much more than the part-time singer for Eric’s part-time band.
A song like Think About It has everything that the best of Leon Russell and Billy Preston and Joe Cocker’s material from the time has – elsewhere there’s hints of country, songs that are filled with a blues power and touch on some of the sessions Duane Allman was pulling around this time but also stretch towards the solo recordings of the early 70s from the CSN/Y crew; okay it doesn’t quite get as cosmically wonderful as Cowboy Movie, nor as stately as the best of Nash but it’s approaching Manassas and there’s more charm here, this feels real, not just an exercise in dressing up.
Whitlock is something of an unsung figure really, he followed Clapton around really, you go listen back to Clapton’s decent, self-titled album then return to this. Clapton at least repaid some of the favour by playing on these tracks – and sounding alert, alive, sharp, interesting and – most impressively interested.
Whitlock will go down as a footnote only, for his work with Derek and The Dominos, for being part of George Harrison’s post-Beatles touring unit and as part of the Delaney and Bonnie and Friends rambling crew too. But there’s an asterisk to that footnote and it’s this compilation – this is his coulda been a contender set of songs; a great soul-infused yelp, stirring organ playing, the ability to fuse rock and soul and country and blues and give it a real sense of groove.
If you haven’t heard this you need to jump on board. Give it a run. There’s a lot of magic here. I should have mentioned it earlier really, been playing this album a lot this year, one of my favourite reissues – only just thought to note that down now. It’s been a big year for music. Old and new. And this has been one of my favourite “forgotten” gems to rediscover.