Delaney & Bonnie and FriendsD&B Together (Columbia /Legacy)
Mississippi's Delaney Bramlett and ex-Ikette Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell were well-steeped in roots music when they married in the late Sixties. Both Home
and Accept No Substitute
(1969) layered transcendent gospel with rootsy blues-rock and got the attention of Gram Parsons, who recommended them to George Harrison, who played them for Eric Clapton, who dropped everything to tour with them. Delaney & Bonnie and Friends on Tour With Eric Clapton
(1970) was a brilliant display of vocal pyrotechnics and musicianship, as well as the blueprint for Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen
. By 1971, marital problems meant the end was near, and the following year's ironically titled D&B Together
was their last, a potent mix of white-lightning rock and gospel blues, with Dave Mason's "Only You Know and I Know" opening. Bonnie's revival-tent roots meet Delaney's songwriting in "Wade in the River of Jordan" head on; she had her touch with songwriting, too, "Coming Home" being co-authored with Clapton, but her moment came on the incandescent "Superstar," written with Leon Russell and covered by Bette Midler and Karen Carpenter. Delaney's "Are You a Beatle or a Rolling Stone?" is a punchy retort to "Superstar," while Bonnie's "I Know How It Feels to Be Lonely" is torchy smooth. After the hits, most of Together
's 18 tunes are high-octane filler ("Move 'Em Out," "Big Change Comin'"); the six bonus tracks are from the couple's respective solo albums, soulful but less distinguished. Delaney & Bonnie gave the world a unique sound that reverberated in the unlikeliest of ears. They were rootsy when rootsy wasn't cool.