Delaney and Bonnie

On Tour With Eric Clapton (Atco ’70) Rating: A-
Today Delaney and Bonnie are footnotes in rock 'n' roll history, but for a brief period they played a pivotal role in the intersecting careers of several significant artists, as band members Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon would join Eric Clapton in Derek and the Dominos, while Leon Russell, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, Jim Gordon, and Rita Coolidge joined Joe Cocker on his (in)famous Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Some of these players also appeared on Eric Clapton's first solo album, Leon Russell's early solo work, and George Harrison's All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh albums, but Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett were a notable tandem on their own for awhile there, at least until their band was usurped and they divorced in 1971 after leaving behind six albums. I’m highlighting this live album for the obvious reason, namely the presence of Eric Clapton, who met the band when they opened for Blind Faith and who enjoyed playing with them so much that he stuck around even after Blind Faith broke up. Clapton’s excellent playing elevates exciting, energetic songs such as “Things Get Better,” “Only You Know And I Know,” "I Don’t Want To Discuss It,” and “Comin’ Home,” but he’s far from the only attraction, as Bonnie was a powerhouse singer who likely influenced the other Bonnie (Raitt), and the band’s loose ‘n’ lively groove-based sound, which sometimes adds horns and has an almost religious-like fervor to the vocals, delivers fun, upbeat party music. This is a good vibes record, plain and simple, before the drugs and personal problems derailed the careers of seemingly all involved, including Clapton for awhile there. Sure, Delaney isn’t nearly as good a singer as Bonnie (who especially steals the show on “That’s What My Man Is For”), and most of these eight songs, only three of which were written (or co-written) by Delaney and/or Bonnie, aren’t great songwriting-wise. However, this is an enjoyably soulful album whose wide range of styles (country, folk, blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll) would become a trademark of many early ‘70s artists, including some of the ones previously mentioned, particularly Russell. So while Delaney and Bonnie may be a mere footnote in the grand scheme of things, they’re an important footnote and, more importantly, their high energy music, which always translated best in a live setting, still sounds fresh and fun today. Certainly Clapton has rarely sounded so alive in the intervening years, and Traffic’s Dave Mason (who wrote and later also recorded “Only You Know And I Know”) was another high profile contributor within an impressive all-star cast

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