Where There’s A Will There’s A Way: The ABC-Dunhill Years
Future Days FDR 602 CD/Digital
Continuing the never-ending quest to remaster and repackage the greatest music you’ve never heard (but definitely should), Light In The Attic Records is set to release The Bobby Whitlock Story: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way — collecting the first two early 1970’s solo albums by Memphis singer/songwriter/keyboardist/guitarist Bobby Whitlock.
Presented here together on a single CD, Bobby Whitlock (1972) and Raw Velvet (also 1972) are star-studded with appearances from (among others) George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie, and legendary sax man Bobby Keys; these are deeply soulful albums from one of rock music’s key unsung figures. Release date is slated for early June, but downloads and advance CDs are available.
Whitlock’s story is a remarkable one. Born to a hardscrabble existence, raised in abject poverty, abused by his preacher father and was sent out to pick cotton in the fields. Moving from one railroad town to another, Whitlock was quite literally from the wrong side of the tracks.
Yet thanks to his singing and piano playing, music was Whitlock’s escape. Winding up in Memphis, Whitlock hooked up with Stax Records, who signed him as the first white artist to their new pop label HIP. But it was soul music, not pop, that was in Whitlock’s heart – and his break came when Delaney & Bonnie asked him to join their band, ‘The Friends.’
Following Delaney & Bonnie from Stax to Elektra Records, Whitlock found his life starting to intertwine with ’60s rock royalty. Delaney & Bonnie took
him on tour with Blind Faith, where Eric Clapton was impressed with Whitlock’s playing and the camaraderie he saw in The Friends. Soon, Whitlock joined Clapton, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle in Derek & The Dominos, the crack unit that backed George Harrison on much of the seminal All Things Must Pass and recorded the classic rock album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs.
During the recording of those albums, Whitlock tentatively made his first steps as a solo artist. Though drugs were already beginning to tear Derek &
The Dominoes apart, Whitlock was able to call on some high profile friends (and ‘Friends’) to play on his album, including Clapton, Harrison, session bassist Klaus Voorman (John Lennon, Carly Simon, et al), drummer Jim Gordon, Chris Wood of Traffic and others. “I really loved my first record and everything that was behind it,” says Whitlock now. “And for the love that was brought to the room by everyone each time we recorded. I know that you can hear it in Eric’s solo on ‘The Scenery Has Slowly Changed.’”
When Bobby presented his album to Atlantic Records they rejected it, citing a different vision for his debut record. So Bobby bought himself out of his contract. Soon after, The Dominos split up following troubled second album sessions. Bobby just kept moving: first back to his rural home in England, then to France, where the Rolling Stones were recording Exile On Main Street. He found a deal for his debut album (via producer Jimmy Miller) and a follow-up too. That second album, Raw Velvet, featured the Edwin Hawkins Singers, the L.A. Symphony, Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon and Bobby’s new band members: Rick Vito on guitar, Keith Ellis on bass and Don Poncher on drums. Andy Johns produced Whitlock’s self titled debut and later produced Television’s Marquee Moon, while Raw Velvet was produced by the legendary Jimmy Miller who also did the Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street! Raw Velvet featured the Edwin Hawkins Singers, the L.A. Symphony, Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon and Bobby’s new band members: Rick Vito on guitar, Keith Ellis on bass and Don Poncher on drums.
Pat Thomas, the reissue producer of this CD, told Bobby Whitlock during their first conversation about reissuing these recordings: “Your first two solo albums are the missing link for all this seminal music that has been on CD for years; Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, All Things Must Pass, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Dave Mason’s Alone Together, and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends ‘On Tour’ with Eric Clapton.”
Bobby paused for a moment, and said, “I never thought about it like that, but you’re absolutely right.”