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.
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'.
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.
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.
With the arrival of Delta Lady: The Rita Coolidge Anthology, one can only remark: what took so long? No other singer – not Maria Muldaur, Bette Midler, Bonnie Bramlett, Carly Simon, or Linda Ronstadt – more perfectly embodied the wide range of changes that popular music underwent from the late '60s through the mid-'80s, and continues to seek new means of expression today. This two-disc anthology on Hip-O offers the first complete portrait of this complex and multivalent talent on CD (though a box set would have been nice). Rita Coolidge scored her first chart hit with friend Donna Weiss' "Turn Around and Love You" in 1969. That song earned her a studio spot where she fell in with Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, and a huge cast of musicians. Being a background vocalist on Delaney & Bonnie's classic Accept No Substitute earned her a place on Russell and Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen revue and the rest is history, including a handful of chart hits and guest appearances that stagger the mind.
Tinsley Ellis has earned a reputation for heavy blues-rock guitar since he quit Atlanta's Heartfixers in 1987. Often it's been a little too heavy, ignoring the dynamic nuances that bring out the emotional nature of the blues. But Ellis's first album for Telarc lightens up just enough, so the sweet-and-high six-string intro to "Stuck in Love" enhances the song's guitar melody and the tenderness of his lyrics. He aims for a softer, thinner tone on "Real Bad Way" and turns "Feel No Pain" into a slow, soulful essay in guitar anxiety, full of telling fills, bends, and solo breaks. He also plays some acoustic numbers that allow the butter-and-black-pepper tones of his Southern-accented voice to emerge. Not that Ellis is playing things too cool; there's still plenty of guitar fire all over this record. It's just that he's learned to control the burning.