Bobby Whitlock


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Bobby Whitlock's first new album in two years sounds as though he has scarcely skipped a beat since his heyday during the early and mid-'70s. Listening to this, one also has to wonder if he's got a painting of himself (or perhaps an enchanted X-ray of his vocal cords) hidden somewhere that is aging in his place. More than 35 years after the Layla album by Derek & the Dominos, his voice (as well as his songwriting) still exudes a raw power and expression that grabs the listener by the heart and never lets go, and never more effectively than on "Save Your Love for Me," which is worth the price of the album. Whitlock is equally effective, and startlingly so, on the ebullient "Perfect Strangers," which is as beautiful as it is joyful. There are no complaints in the instrumental department, either, with Steve Cropper augmenting Whitlock's contribution on guitar (in addition, of course, to his keyboards) and Jim Horn on flute and winds. And with a fair amount of overdubbing by him and CoCo Carmel, and Whitlock's production skills applied just right, this CD does recall the man's '70s sides in opulence as well as impact. He hasn't lost his touch as a singer, a musician, or a producer, and with songs such as "My Old Pal" -- about Eric Clapton -- one can't help but associate this work with his classic sides. Ironically, Whitlock's classic recordings have all but disappeared from the marketplace in recent years, and while Vintage isn't really a substitute for those, it is good listening in its own right, and whets the appetite for those older sides.

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