BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Despite a handful of solo recordings, the most notable of which were recorded some 40 years ago, Bobby Whitlock is best known as Eric Clapton’s chief foil in Derek and the Dominos, the allstar outfit that helped spur the guitar god’s early ‘70s comeback. Back then, Whitlock took a prominent role by sharing the composition credits as well as the spotlight with the band’s legendary leader. Consequently Whitlock might be forgiven for still resting on those laurels and spotlighting those songs in his sets.
Carnival, recorded in concert in his hometown of Austin, provides a perfect example of how he manages to exploit that material to his advantage. With musical partner CoCo Carmel — a formidable ally in terms of her mighty vocal chops and sizzling saxophone playing — Whitlock offers surprisingly strong renditions of standout staples from the Dominos catalog. “Got To Get Better,” “Anyday.” “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad,” “Tell the Truth,” “Keep On Growing” and the retuned Hendrix cover, “Little Wing” still sound as vital and compelling as they did back in the day, and while they lack the services of Clapton and onetime guest guitarist Duane Allman, Whitlock, Carmel and company still create a formidable impression. What’s more, even with the emphasis on the older material, the duo’s bluesier originals like “River of Life” and “It’s Not the End of the World” don’t sound any slighter by comparison. That makes Carnival quite the spirited display.\
DOWNLOAD: “It’s Not the End of the World, “Keep On Growing,” “Anyday”