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Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, October 22, 2010, Music

Delaney & Bonnie

(Rhino Handmade)

Blind Faith's sole tour, 1969, birthed Derek & the Dominos after the supergroup's axe grinder Eric Clapton spirited away the rhythm section from the opening act, L.A.'s Delaney & Bonnie, the West Coast equivalent of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Bonnie Bramblett had, in fact, been the first white Ikette, and while married to her own Mississippi-born mad music genius, her high-octane supplication rocketed straight out of the South's house of God and into rock & roll history. A modest slice of such was captured live for a total of eight cuts on 1970's Delaney & Bonnie & Friends on Tour With Eric Clapton. All four UK performances taped for the LP come to light on Internet boutique Rhino Handmade's 4-CD Delaney & Bonnie, housed in a miniature tour case with riveting, novella-length liner notes by Bud Scoppa that cut a path through an incestuous who's who of musical bloodlines, wherein Gram Parsons passes a tape of D&B to George Harrison, who gives it to Eric Clapton with the caveat, "You ain't ready for this band." The Beatle later joined the tour uncredited, then hired Clapton, plus D&B's drummer (Jim Gordon), bassist (Carl Radle), and now-Austinite/pianist/organist Bobby Whitlock, for his solo bow, 1970's 3-LP All Things Must Pass. Derek & the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs came out the same year. Beginning with 80 minutes from the Royal Albert Hall – and a jam that could be off the jams disc in 1990's Derek & the Dominos' The Layla Sessions 20th Anniversary Edition box set – Delaney & Bonnie rides the same lightning. Whitlock testifies the demons out of Spencer Davis' broiling "Gimme Some Lovin'" and Dave Mason's signature D&B hit "Only You Know and I Know," while Clapton's vocal on "Don't Know Why," which later appeared on his eponymous solo debut, siphons off his roots worship with a soulful sincerity and mercenary guitar solo. Explosive D&B/Whitlock co-write "Where There's a Will, There's a Way" inexplicably leaves the Albert Hall standing despite its steamrolled catharsis. The husband/wife bandleaders wring out a beautiful duet on Stax steamer "Everybody Loves a Winner," proving that Clapton's own vocal style owes a major debt to Delaney, the guitarist's collaborator on Eric Clapton, also '70. One of Clapton's outtakes, "Coming Home," here rams its titular hot spot like the Hal Ashby Vietnam-era film of the same name. Blazing "I Don't Want To Discuss It" was the only song etched into the original On Tour grooves, though it's inexplicable why the whole of the Royal Albert Hall performance wasn't the LP released. Disc two, the next night at Colston Hall in Bristol, can't match the previous night's boiling point, but the scalding's comparable, while the remaining two CDs – the afternoon and evening sets from Sunday, Dec. 7, 1969, at Fairfield Halls, D&B's last UK tour date – split the difference. Delaney & Bonnie, "Layla" crucible.


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