Thursday, June 23, 2011
Delaney & Bonnie And Friends - On Tour With Eric Clapton
Racer’s been sending me links for all kinds of cool digital promos of new music but I’m having trouble with the computer again. They installed some new systems on my box at work and it’s been slowing everything down. The past two weeks lots of things have been stalling on me and causing me to reboot. The upshot of all this is that a friend of mine loaned me this Delaney & Bonnie box set and I’ve been playing the hell out of it and it’s brought back some great memories.
Way back when I was first starting to get into rock music in the late 70’s I used to go to the local public library and borrow records to help me determine just what kind of music I liked. The rock section was pretty small so I would grab just about anything available. This is the reason why I know that I don’t like Steeleye Span at all and that I find Procol Harum a little dull. One week I stumbled across an album by Delaney & Bonnie And Friends called On Tour With Eric Clapton. I’d heard plenty of Clapton on the radio, some I liked some I didn’t but I brought it home and gave it a spin and fell in love with it. Through an older brother I had been exposed to a lot of soul music like Booker T. & The MG’s and James Brown as well as a healthy dose rock & roll originators like Chuck Berry and Little Richard. This Delaney & Bonnie album appealed to me immediately and I made a cassette copy of it that I played all the time. A few years later the tape broke and I had started my path to heavy metal madness and never bothered to pick it up again.
So about 30 years later I’m at a friends place and he mentions that he just acquired a box set of 4 complete shows recorded on the tour that produced the album with Eric Clapton and would I like to hear some of it. From the first note, memories came flooding back and the music sounded better than I remembered. Jeezus, what a band! In 1969 Delaney & Bonnie were touring as the opening act for Blind Faith. Eric Clapton was so smitten with them that when Blind Faith broke up he joined their band for their next tour and brought along his friend George Harrison. It’s easy to see why these British musicians would be so impressed. England has produced a lot of great players and bands but it’s pretty hard to compete with a rhythm section of American dudes from the south. The core of the band is Bobby Whitlock on organ, Carl Radle on bass and Jim Gordon on drums. Do those names sound familiar? George Harrison used them on his album All Things Must Pass before they formed Derek & The Dominos with Clapton. The horn section of Bobby Keys and Jim Price would later join the Rolling Stones. Even backing vocalist Rita Coolidge went on to be a pretty big star not long after this. Dave Mason and Leon Russell turn up from time to time as special guests.
The original LP was only about 40 minutes edited down from 4 concerts recorded in December 1969. This box presents all the shows in complete form. It’s probably overkill for most but that’s why it’s a limited edition box set. The Royal Albert Hall show is the longest of all 4 shows and captures the band in peak form. There haven’t been too many bands that have been able to blend soul music with rock & roll and blues this well. This is southern music but not “southern rock” although it does rock. They boogie like no other on the uptempo songs like “Things Get Better,” “Coming Home,” “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” and on Dave Mason’s “Only You Know & I Know.” Delaney and Bonnie’s vocals really shine on the slower ballads like “Poor Elija” and “Everybody Loves A Winner.” A highlight of most of the shows is a medley of the songs “Pour Your Love On Me/Just Plain Beautiful.” The band really smokes on this and there’s some great guitar interplay between all the guitarists. Most of the songs are repeated on each disc but there are some cool one time performances. A great version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and a cover of Booker T.’s “Pigmy” are highlights of disc 4.
The original album is still in print and worth picking up if you’re low on funds, but if this sounds at all interesting to you go for the box. The packaging is very cool and it will probably be out of print soon. MP3’s from itunes do not due music like this any justice. Don’t be afraid to turn it up and get funky. And support your local library!
Buy here: Delaney & Bonnie On Tour With Eric Clapton
Buy here mp3: On Tour With Eric Clapton