Wednesday, 3 April 2013

DELANEY AND BLUE DIAMOND Giving Birth To A Song 1975

The other album I bought from Rooky Ricardo's Records and my first album from Delaney Bramlett as a stand-alone solo artist (the '& Blue Diamond' credit is misleading, they're just another backup band). I'd gotten into Delaney through Eric Clapton (like I get into most musicians) and spent a few years headbanging to On Tour, before falling in love with the more delicate sounds of To Bonnie From Delaney and Motel Shot. This album threw me at first, sitting somewhere inbetween those three albums in its overall vibe. In hindsight, it seems odd that I'd be thrown, as I've found some of the Bramlett trademarks that hook me into his music.

Delaney always effortlessly fused musical styles, and here he's a soul singer backed by a strong rock band. It sucks not having Bonnie around, but here Delaney is probably the strongest I've heard him as a singer. The opening song seemed underwhelming at first, with its one chord intro, but by the second listen you oughta be hooked on Delaney's vocal belting. He shines the most on the musically laid-back soul songs, most notably So Much In Love - such a convincing song, Delaney's in his element serenading the ladies, who only laugh at my tuneless, keyless rendition :'-( I also love the backing vocals, perfectly arranged to emphasise the emotion; see also Nothing Without You and (I Wanna) Stay Home With You for more. I had to double-check the back of the sleeve, convinced that there must've been a couple of grossly underrated singers in Delaney's band. Turns out I grossly underestimated Delaney - all backing voices are his. So Much In Love needs another shout-out for it's bassline - who'd've thunk that a bass could emphasise emotion like that - and the most profound lyric ever at 2:27.
(I Wanna) needs a second shout-out for some cool lyrics, "ah shucks, what a rut..." and "hunky dorey, ok, everything's alright" ... fun, quirky lines that remind me of It Doesn't Matter Any More's "golly, gee, what have you done to me?". Also gotta show some love for Side One closer The Plug, where Delaney is probably nodding to his hero Elvis Presley with all those uh-huhs layered onto each other, with a bit of "y'all" to make it cool.
Fans of male vocalists might be interested in the cover of Otis Redding's Lover's Prayer. I had a listen to his version on youtube; I'm really liking the Blue Diamond arrangement, faithful but fuller. What I'm really interested in, though, is Nothing Without You. This and half the songs on the album were co-written by Delaney with a chap called Billy Burnett, who turned up in Fleetwood Mac with Delaney's daughter Bekka and this song, for the Time album in 1995. That version feels too pop for it's own good, this one's a proper uplifting rock tune. The rock element really comes out on the last two songs, some guitar solos getting traded in I Got Away - no idea which guitarist is playing what, but never mind...that's one cool riff!

Considering Delaney's get seven or eight musicians behind him, they're all sounding great; the organ/piano double-up is cool, along with three guitars drifting in and out of the mix. Once again Delaney's gone and surrounded himself with severely experienced musicians. I had no idea who any of these guys were, and it's been cool finding out what they'd been up to...HEADS UP, here's where the review ends and an infodump for the curious begins!

Some of these guys had been on the periphery of bands I like. Bassist Fred Rivera played with Kent Henry in Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean before the both joined Genesis (Californian not British) and released an album, In The Beginning, in 1968. Rivera was drafted into the US army, joining Delaney after his tenure, by which time his former bandmate had replaced Larry Byrom in Steppenwolf and recorded the naff For Ladies Only.
Guitarist Nick van Maarth had a 7" with The Raik's Progress way back in 1966, in the formative days of psychedelia, later being roped into a lineup of The Crickets (as in, Buddy Holly &...) which included past and future Eric Clapton alumni Ric Grech and Albert Lee, recording two hella rare albums.
Pianist Jim Hobson had two albums with his own obscurity, Morning, whose association with Love had him playing on two songs from Out There as Love disintegrated. Drummer Stu Perry had a similar experience; after performing on albums by Jellyroll and Blue Rose, he got recruited into a lineup of Spirit that had no original members, completing a couple of months of tour obligations, including a festival in Australia. He also had a cameo in The Posiedon Adventure, huh!

Then it turns out Victor Pantoja was a savagely influential percussionist, and I haven't even begun to wrap my head around organist Rick Allen/Sutherland's career, but know that this was one of five albums he recorded with Delaney in the 70s and the only other one to be released. Go listen while I do more career learnings!

HEADS UP AGAIN: The end of the first song jumps a bit due to a scratch on the record. It skips maybe a couple of seconds, but this'll still be worth every penny you paid for it.

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