Other Assorted Love Songs

Bobby Whitlock / Kim Carmel

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Other Assorted Love Songs Review

by Bruce Eder

This recording is a marvel of perfection on several levels, starting with the performance itself, which most artists would be happy to release as a defining work of their careers. There's not a wrong moment anywhere, and the audio is technically perfect as well. And as an album, it does much more than capture an evening's work -- it also reclaims a major part of Bobby Whitlock's legacy in his own name. Recorded live at Whitney Chapel Centenary College in New Jersey, Whitlock (in partnership with Kim Carmel) performs the songs that he wrote or co-wrote for Derek & the Dominos, plus other chronologically relevant compositions and some newer ones. The classic pieces hold up magnificently, and all of it is a reminder that there was a lot more to the Dominos than the members' virtuosity, prodigious as the latter was -- very few bands ever went into the studio with a better repertoire to work with on a debut long-player. But here, acoustic guitar and piano are more than sufficient accompaniment and, indeed, coupled with Whitlock's powerful singing and range, make a strong case for these being the definitive versions. Stripped down to their basics, "I Looked Away," "Keep on Growing," and "Anyday" as sung by Whitlock retain just about everything that they were in the band's hands three decades before, reconfigured here as deeply personal white Southern soul. "Bell Bottom Blues" is greater in this setting, with Whitlock‘s singing fully exposed in all of its raspy, expressive glory, and his duets with Carmel on "Tell the Truth" and "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad" also eclipse the originals as interpretations. Indeed, any serious fan of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs may find this recording essential as well, if only to hear how the composer handles those songs on his own. Whitlock also makes a strong presentation of his later work, songs from the 1990s and also pieces new to this album -- among the latter, "In the Middle of the Night" by itself is worth the price of the album. And based on his performance of "All Things Must Pass" -- a song on which he played originally -- it wouldn't be the worst idea for Whitlock to do an album of George Harrison songs, if he were so inclined. The whole recording, including Carmel's featured song ("Good-Bye"), is so overflowing with superb music and deeply personal feeling that it is almost a gift from the artists to their audience -- worth far more than any retail price could ever warrant.

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