Delaney & Bonnie and Friends - Motel Shot (1971)

Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett were a husband and wife soul duo known for the ‘friends’, a large non-permanent group of famous musician associates who played with them both in the studio and on tour.

The Bramletts’ third album for Atco was a stylistic change of direction. Whilst previously they had been known for their electric soul-rock sound, with Motel Shot they took a trip deep into the roots of their music, and did so in an almost entirely live and acoustic way. The album was recorded with the idea of capturing the ambience of a late-night jam session on the road, and in this it succeeded. Joining Delaney & Bonnie were all their musician pals, featuring among others pianist Leon Russell, guitarist Duane Allman, Little Feat bassist Kenny Gradney, bluegrass/folk musician John Hartford, drummer Jim Keltner, guitarist Dave Mason, sax player Bobby Keys, bassist Carl Radle, guitarist Clarence White and keyboard player Bobby Whitlock. Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker, Rita Coolidge and Gram Parsons are also in there somewhere. The songs were a combination of originals and covers, the latter featuring Bob Wills’ “Faded Love”, Chuck Willis’ “Don’t Deceive Me” and Robert Johnson’s “Come On In My Kitchen”, as well as a selection of traditional folk and gospel songs. Of the originals, “Long Road Ahead” had already been recorded by Jim Ford, and “Lonesome And A Long Way From Home” had been on Eric Clapton’s first solo album.
Stylistically, Motel Shot blends folk, soul, gospel, country and blues into a seamless portrait of American roots music. The music is very music driven by the vocals, to the backing of acoustic guitars, piano and percussion (with brief solo opportunities for Duane Allman’s slide guitar and John Hartford’s fiddle). The Friends contribute a great deal to the vocals, and much of it has the vibe of a soul-infused sing-along… In particular, some of the gospel tracks sound pretty much like everybody crowded around Leon Russell’s piano singing and shaking tambourines together. The recording exudes passion, and is testimony to the idea that some of the best music is made unrehearsed and improvised, captured in the moment.
In many ways it can be considered Delaney & Bonnie’s best album, even if it’s not typical of their usual style. It made it to #65 on the album charts, and also gave them their highest charting single (“Never Ending Song Of Love”, which got to #13).

To Bonnie From Delaney (1970) <|> D&B Together (1972)
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