See my earlier comment for biographical detail on the joy that is Delaney & Bonnie.
Inconsistent they may be but there are tangible benefits from their music.
This album comes at the dawn of Southern white soul and the rise of Southern rock as dominant styles in the South.
And, accordingly, it has elements of both styles though to be fair, Delaney & Bonnie always had both those styles of southern music in their style.
Soul, blues, funk, strings, rock, gospel, guitars all blend seamlessly into a style of music that was incredibly popular in the early 1970s (and is not unpopular today) and there were many acts practicing the same. Derek & the Dominos, The Allman Brothers Band, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Jackie DeShannon, The Band, Dr John, Leon Russell, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Wayne Cochran, Jesse Ed Davis, Tony Joe White, Little Feat, Black Oak Arkansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Elvis Presley and many others all played variations on the theme.
To Southern acts the music was a statement of identity. The music was an amalgamation of musical styles that had made the South what it was. They were loud, proud and happy to display their melting pop of roots music. This here, then, was the result, a roots music where the roots were allowed to become entangled.
And here, the Southern sound is unmistakeable. Perhaps, they were putting it all out there and turning up the Southern ambience to eleven on the dial as a dare. The music is defiant and strident as if they are saying, “You took rock n roll, jazz, blues, and country from us but you can’t take this from us”. Ironically, Northerners like Al Kooper, were drawn to the music as were Englishmen like Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Joe Cocker and others.
There have been many attempts at replicating this and the techniques sometimes comes close but nothing quite sounds like the originals.
This music may have become clichéd through overuse in film (and on television by television studio bands) and its powered diminished by too many slick soulless reproductions but you have to dismiss those from your mind.
“D&B Together” is the sixth album by Delaney & Bonnie and their most ironic title. It was their last album. The group and their marriage fell apart shortly after, or rather, their marriage and the group.
There was nothing new here that D&B hadn’t already done but the joy in the music is in the joy of the performances. The music is meant to be danced to or to be sung along to. Often, there are deeper themes that you can think about but everything is subsumed to the “feel” in / of the music.
And that feel is created by a remarkable collection of largely Southern musicians. See trivia at end but amongst the legendary Southern session men we have solo stars like Duane Allman, Tina Turner, Merry Clayton, Leon Russell, John Hartford, Steve Cropper, Billy Preston, Rita Coolidge, Eddie Kendricks, as well as Englishmen Eric Clapton and Dave Mason.
Sometimes they shine through individually but o this type of music the whole is more important than the individual components.
Oddly, their last label, Atco, had no faith in the album, “Country Life, Delaney & Bonnie's sixth album, was anticipated by the artist's label Atco (Atlantic) Records following the success of their previous three albums and of "Never Ending Song of Love," a single from their last album Motel Shot; moreover, Atlantic executive Jerry Wexler had developed a personal friendship with the artists. The album was delivered to Atlantic behind schedule, and was rushed into distribution upon delivery in early 1972. However, Wexler found the album's quality unsatisfactory and quickly withdrew it from the market. Wexler discovered that Delaney and Bonnie's marriage was under strain, and responded by selling their contract and this album's master tapes to CBS. CBS reordered the running sequence of the album as shown below, and re-released it in March 1972, using different cover art, as D&B Together” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%26B_Together
From a commercial POV it was a sound decision (perhaps … albums were pressed) as the album didn’t sell well but from a music perspective the album sounds great.
This may be the last original Delaney and Bonnie album but they went out on a bang rather than a whimper.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Only You Know and I Know – (Dave Mason) – Originally by former Traffic member Dave Mason on his debut solo album, "Alone Together" (1970). Eric Clapton and Dave Mason are on guitar.
- Wade in the River of Jordan – (Traditional, arr. Delaney Bramlett) – They performed it in the magnificent film Vanishing Point (1971). A gospel shouter.
- Sound of the City – (Delaney Bramlett, Joe Hicks) – Bonnie and Delaney sing with Tina Turner, as the song was recorded in Ike Turner's studio. The battle of blues pipes and Bonnie holds her own against Tina though everyone is a little (just a little) restrained.
- Well, Well – (Delaney Bramlett) – funky fuzzy guitar by Delaney.
- I Know How It Feels to Be Lonely – (Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Ware) – a slow smouldering burn
- Comin' Home – (Bonnie Bramlett, Eric Clapton) – originally Delaney & Bonnie did this on their live album, “On Tour with Eric Clapton” (1970 ) Eric Clapton and Dave Mason on guitar though I've also read it as Duane Allman on guitar. A great southern rock funk tune. Perfect for driving to, in an American muscle car, with the roof down (do you hear me James?)
- Move 'Em Out – (Steve Cropper, Bettye Crutcher) – this seems to have been done by Delaney & Bonnie first. Recorded as a favour to their friend Cropper (of the MGs). Less screech and more vocalising and this comes across almost hippie-esque. Well, hippie-esque by Southern boogie standards.
- Big Change Comin' – (Delaney Bramlett) – another funky workout though the guitar is mixed too far back.
- A Good Thing (I'm on Fire) – (Delaney Bramlett, Gordon DeWitty) – Duane Allman plays on this but because of contractual problems he is very low in the mix. A funky passionate heat song.
- Groupie (Superstar) – (Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell) – this song had, originally, been a B-side by Delaney & Bonnie in 1969 to the “Comin Home” single. It has been covered many times … Cher (1970), Bette Midler (1970), Vicki Carr (1971), Gayle McCormick (1971) and most famously by The Carpenters who had a #2 with it in 1971 which perhaps prompted its resurrection here. A great tune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstar_(Delaney_and_Bonnie_song)
- I Know Something Good About You – (Delaney Bramlett, Joe Hicks) – Delaney plays the guitar, King Curtis the sax, Billy Preston the piano, Bobby Womack the bass. Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett are among the chorus. I assume it is Delaney on lead and he has a good voice for this.
- Country Life – (Delaney Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock) – a great country rock tune. Totally different to the rest of the album. Laid back and relaxed but with the Southern charm coming through. Excellent.
Great fun. Pass the grits (nothing quite like stereotyped humour, eh?) … I'm keeping it.
1971 Only You Know and I Know #20
1972 Move Em Out #59
Why would it chart? England had their own true children of the South, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Ian Matthews, Albert Lee, George Harrison and others.
Interestingly the only record by Delaney & Bonnie that ever charted in England was their album "Delaney & Bonnie On Tour with Eric Clapton" (#39, 1970). Parochialism at its best even when the source is some 4000 miles away.
Only You Know and I Know
A Good Thing (I'm on Fire)
- Arranged By, Producer – Delaney Bramlett. (Producer: David Anderle/Doug Gilmore/Delaney Bramlett
- Delaney Bramlett – guitar, vocals / Bonnie Bramlett – vocals / Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals / Leon Russell – piano, keyboards, vocals / Duane Allman – guitar, vocals / Dave Mason – guitar, vocals / Carl Radle – bass, vocals / John Hartford – banjo, vocals / Steve Cropper – guitar, vocals / Jim Gordon – drums, vocals / Red Rhodes – steel guitar, vocals / Jaimoe – drums, vocals / Billy Preston – keyboards, piano, vocals / Charlie Freeman – guitar, vocals / Kenny Gradney – bass, vocals / Bobby Whitlock – keyboards, vocals / Bobby Keys – saxophone, vocals / James Jamerson – bass, vocals / Jerry Jumonville – saxophone, vocals / King Curtis – saxophone, vocals / Larry Knechtel – bass, vocals / Darrell Leonard – trumpet, vocals / Jim Price – horns, vocals / Chuck Rainey – bass, vocals / Larry Savoie – trombone, vocals / Rita Coolidge – vocals / Tina Turner – vocals / Venetta Fields – vocals / Merry Clayton – vocals / Eddie Kendricks – vocals / Sam Clayton – vocals / Joe Hicks – vocals / Patrice Holloway – vocals / Tex Johnson – vocals / Clydie King – vocals / Sherlie Matthews – vocals / Gordon De Witty – vocals / Jay York – vocals (and, perhaps Bobby Womack)
- Rita Coolidge was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie and she sang backing for them before supplying backing vocals for many acts recording in LA … before going solo.