Music

Bobby Whitlock and CoCo Carmel: Carnival: Live in Austin

Carnival: Live in Austin finds Whitlock at the top of his game, with a healthy selection of classics drawn from his Derek and the Dominos days, plus more recent songs.


Bobby Whitlock and CoCo Carmel

Carnival: Live in Austin

Label: Domino
US Release Date: 2013-06-25
UK Release Date: 2013-06-25
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

A day at the carnival: rides, popcorn and cotton candy, barkers, sideshows, games of chance and games of skill. Games of skill are what Bobby Whitlock, his wife CoCo Carmel and their hot band bring to this Carnival, recorded live in their hometown of Austin, TX.

Whitlock, best known as a member of Delaney and Bonnie’s band and as an integral part of Derek and the Dominos (writing or co-writing six of the songs on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs), has been experiencing a renaissance these last few years with an autobiography, a slew of new recordings, and the long overdue reissue of his first two solo albums. Carnival: Live in Austin finds him at the top of his game, with a healthy selection of classics drawn from his Derek and the Dominos days, plus more recent songs.

A hard driving band is needed to successfully pull off the energetic song selection here and Whitlock and Carmel have it in their three accompanists, all hot players on the Austin scene. Jeff Plankenhorn, often referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife of sidemen”, handles the guitar-centric songs with verve. Jimmy Pettit is a veteran bass player on the Austin scene, while drummer Brannen Temple has performed with artists ranging from Janet Jackson to Eric Johnson and Robben Ford. Versatility is the word that best describes this group.

But it all comes down to Whitlock. His distinctive vocals, as deep and blue as a starry southern summer night, are the center of each song. It’s a soulful, sometimes sorrowful, and always cathartic voice--equal parts whiskey, grits, and honey. It turns tracks such as his “John the Revelator” into gospel revival and late night bar room blitz simultaneously.

An important part of the mix is Whitlock’s partner, both in marriage and music, CoCo Carmel. Carmel plays saxophone and has a bluesy, powerful singing voice. Her vocals often double Whitlock’s, lightening and adding color to his deep baritone. Her sax on the Hendrix standard “Little Wing” (done in the sweeping, grandiose Derek and the Dominoes arrangement) adds a moody jazzy majesty.

There’s a theme of perseverance, despite life’s obstacles and hard times, that runs through the album with tracks like “River Of Life”, “It’s Not the End of the World”, “Got to Get Better”, and “Keep On Growing”.

Though the song selection flows well, the show would have been a good opportunity to revisit some songs from his four solo ‘70s records, especially now that the first two are back in print. For the detail obsessed (like myself), information is missing on exactly when and where in Austin the album was recorded. But these are minor quibbles. In the end, this carnival is well worth the price of admission.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.