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Bobby Whitlock & Coco Carmel Esoteric (Domino)

Man, this record had me at “hello.” Opening with a smoldering blues tune written by the

couple called “Devil Blues,” it’s easy to become so hypmotized that you just drop what you were doing - like writing in my case - and just kick back to take it all in. I mean, it;s so hot the embers are still glowing red even after the track has finished playing. Now that they have your attention, the former Derek & The Dominos singer and keyboard player and his amazing sax playing and sultry singing bride don’t let up at all. Bobby’s “Time for Letting Go” follows, and it is just as hot. I had to stop the player and run to the kitchen for a big glass of iced water. Then comes “John The Revelator,” the Whitlock’s gospel smooth groove, based on the traditional gospel call and response tune. I just have to say, Coco Carmel is one fine record pro- ducer. On the whole record, but especially on this cut. Her background vocals, in this case more like a second lead vocal, wraps around Bobby’s lead vocal like a warm blanket. This is the kind of music that immediately gets my full attention folks.

Next is “Nobody Knows,” a Coco composition on which she sings her heart out and just wails on thet sax as well. These guys have the blues, soul, gospel thing down pat. No doubt about it. “Just Another Mountain” is next up to bat. Bobby’s vocals drip off of his lips like honey, and Coco sounds angelic with her flourishes in the backgraound. Folks, this album isn’t leaving my CD changer any time soon. I promise. “River of Life” picks up the tempo a bit, but as of yeat there have been no real rockers, which is fine with me. This r&b soul is just what the doc- tor ordered.

“Roll On” is another great song, about moving to California, “where the sun always shines,” and “What Happened to Love” is a lovely duet with a soaring melody.


The magic just keeps on coming, with great songs like “Castles in the Wind,” “It’s Not the End of the World,” and “Changing Faces” I remember the first time I was introduced to Bobby Whitlock many years ago, and spoke with him on the phone so many times. I was already a fan, since Layla and Other Love Songs is and always has been, my all time favorite album. But hearing his great stories made it even more spe- cial. (Many of the stories were recently pub- lished in his autobiography). And then I was blessed a few years later to end up onstage at a club in Muscle Shoals, singing and playing with folks like Spooner Oldham, Ray Brand, Stephen Foster and of course, Bobby and Coco. Great memories. With Esoteric, the duo proves once and for all that they can hang with anybody, I repeat any- body, in the music business. This is music straight from the heart. It really is esoteric, and I am pleased to say that I have no problem at all “getting it.” I feel sure that you will too. -Michael Buffalo Smith

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