Bobby Whitlock, The Bobby Whitlock Story: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Stephen M. Deusner

By Stephen M. Deusner

on 06.18.13 in Reviews
Summing up his early career, mixing gritty Stax R&B with gospel-rock jamming

A journeyman whose fame never matched his contributions to pop music, Bobby Whitlock made his recording debut at 16, clapping along with Sam & Dave on their hit “I Thank You.” After honing his keyboard chops with Booker T, the native Memphian led Delaney & Bonnie’s touring band, backed George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, and was a founding member of the short-lived blues-rock super-group Derek & the Dominoes. In the early 1970s, he recorded two solo albums with his close friends and famous collaborators, including Harrison and Eric Clapton, and after being out of print for years, Bobby Whitlock and Raw Velvet have been compiled on Where There’s a Will There’s a Way. His nimble piano playing lends a hymn-like gravity to “You Came Along,” but generally the keys are hidden in the mix, possibly to better showcase Clapton’s fluid guitar solos. However, Whitlock’s wild, thundering vocals absolutely dominate these songs, sounding soulful, intense, and even a bit unhinged on “A Day Without Jesus” and a particularly heavy cover of “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham.” Together, these two albums sum up his early career, mixing gritty Stax R&B with gospel-rock jamming to create a sound that is still potent 40 years later.