There’s California Gold in Them Thar Vaults
Two lesser known but more than supporting musicians to some of rock and roll’s greatest songs joined together in 1979 to make an album, California Gold, which was released in September on Cliffsong Records.
The Cliff of Cliffsongs is Doug “ Cosmo” Clifford, drummer for Creedence Clearwater Revival. His album partner is Bobby Whitlock, whose many credits include being a co-founder of Derek & The Dominos. With Eric Clapton, he co-write half the songs on Layla and other Assorted Love Songs, “including “Layla,” “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Tell The Truth.”
Whitlock sings lead vocals on the 10 original songs he and Clifford co-wrote together. The album was recorded at Cosmos Factory, the CCR rehearsal space and various other San Francisco Bay Area studios.
The collaboration came about, Clifford said, after he called Duck Dunn “and asked if he knew any singers and if he wanted to put a band together with me and he suggested Bobby Whitlock.” Dunn plays bass on some songs.
“A lot of the songs were written in my house in the Bay Area,” Clifford said. “I lived in Kensington at the time. He came to the house and after we got the band together, we used Cosmo’s Factory as the point of collaboration.”
The songs don’t have the swampy sound that CCR is known for but are a combination of roots rock and melodic blues. In other words, it’s a straight-ahead 70s sound-sounding rock album with outstanding guitar by David Vega and Mike O’Neill.
Among the standout songs are the jammy “Purple Mountains,” with Whitlock’s organ bringing a bluesy, soulful touch to the song and the tender ballad, “I’d Rather Keep You As a Friend.”
For reasons no one knows, California Gold was somehow lost in the vaults. But better late than never. “It’s about time, I’m really glad that it’s out,” Clifford said.