Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett assembled an all-star group of "friends" in 1969 for a weeklong tour of England, a legendary excursion that would produce On Tour With Eric Clapton, one of rock's most powerful and enduring live albums. Clocking in at a mere 40 minutes, the original left fans wanting more for decades. THE WAIT IS OVER - Rhino Handmade delivers with a four-disc deluxe reissue expanded with more than three hours of unreleased roof-raising, hickory-smoked rock 'n' soul. The set, which comes packaged in a mock road case, contains Delaney & Bonnie & Friends' complete performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, plus a composite of the next night's performances at Colston Hall in Bristol, and both the early and late shows from the tour's final stop at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Along with the Bramletts, the touring band showcased on these discs includes guitarists Eric Clapton and Dave Mason, bassist Carl Radle, drummer Jim Gordon, organist Bobby Whitlock, Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns, percussionist Tex Johnson, and singer Rita Coolidge.
This 42-minute, eight-song live album, cut at Croydon late in 1969, is not only the peak of Delaney & Bonnie's output, but also the nexus in the recording and performing careers of Eric Clapton and George Harrison. On Tour features Clapton performing the same blend of country, blues, and gospel that would characterize his own early solo ventures in 1970. He rises to the occasion with dazzling displays of virtuosity throughout, highlighted by a dizzying solo on "I Don't Want to Discuss," a long, languid part on "Only You Know and I Know," and searing, soulful lead on the beautifully harmonized "Coming Home." Vocally, Delaney & Bonnie were never better than they come off on this live set, and the 11-piece band sounds tighter musically than a lot of quartets that were working at the time, whether they're playing extended blues or ripping through a medley of Little Richard songs.
The husband-and-wife duo of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett created some of the most distinctive and unique music of the early '70s, but their alchemical sound – equal parts blue-eyed soul, blues, country, and gospel – was often marginalized by the attention instead paid to the contributions of their famous "friends," including rock icons like Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and George Harrison.
Bonnie Bramlett is the name of one of the single most revered female Blues/Soul/Rock vocalists in music history. Bonnie began her career with the Iketttes, backing Ike & Tina Turner, before gaining international fame with her husband as half of Delaney and Bonnie, the first white group to be signed to the legendary Stax label. Her later solo work included fine recordings with The Average White Band as well as acclaimed acting work in major Hollywood movies. Today the voice that has been called "the greatest white female R&B voice to emerge from rock music" is still piping through vocal chords that have transcended musical styles and genres. With the release of I Can Laugh About It Now, Bonnie reclaims the spotlight. The album features a fine collection of selected covers such as Stephen Stills' 'Love The One You're With' and the Sam Cooke classic A Change Is Gonna Come, a tear-jerkin'-heart-breakin' version of Love Hurts as well as Bramlett originals like the album title track (co-written with daughter Bekka) and 'Gotcha'.
Even those who remember her performances as copilot of the soulful all-star revue called Delaney & Bonnie & Friends will be startled by the intensity of this comeback album. With full-throated, empathetic vocals throughout I'm Still the Same, Bramlett connects a variety of pop traditions, from jump blues to gauzy romantic balladry, and makes it all work. Her ability to read a lyric on tunes like "Hurt" compares to that of Dinah Washington, and not unfavorably. At medium tempos, such as the Santana-style samba of "What If," Bramlett sings comfortably around the beat, working the tension between the steady pulse and her more rubato phrasing. She's strongest, however, when the groove is slow; the 6/8 crawl of "No Man's Land," for example, lets her draw full dramatic effect from the lyric, especially on long notes that she can twist, stretch, and milk dry through a carefully controlled vibrato, subtle timbral variation, and other tools of expression.