I’ve been around long enough to know that so many of these so-called legendary jam sessions that include all-star musicians often do not live up to expectations. Delaney & Bonnie’s “Motel Shot” originally released by Atlantic in 1971 with guest appearances by (three Derek & the Domino band-mates:) Duane Allman, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, plus Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Joe Cocker, Gram Parsons, Bobby Keys, Kenny Gradney, Jim Keltner, and even John Hartford contributes with his banjo. Produced by Delaney Bramlett, and captured by engineer Bruce Botnick, this Real Gone Music edition is expanded with eight bonus tracks, along with the dozen original tunes for a total of twenty for this reissue. There’s also a wonderful updated set of liners by Pat Thomas with recent quotes from the living musicians.
The traditional “Where the Soul Never Dies” opens and sounds ragged like the late night jam it was billed to be; Leon Russell’s piano leads the way on this otherwise lackluster mishmash. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” similarly follows in disarray, as does the traditional “Rock of Ages.” There’s judicious and appreciated form on the Bramlett’s “Long Road Ahead” co-authored by bassist Carl Radle, but it’s repetitious with the titled lyrics repeated over and over. Bob and Johnny Wills “Faded Love” is anchored with convincing and stirring Delaney vocals who is mostly accompanied by pianist Russell. The lengthiest selection (6:52) “Talkin’ About Jesus” is also repetitive yet it receives additional inspiration from Joe Cocker who sounds heavenly alongside Bonnie. Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen” seemingly adds Duane Allman’s acoustic slide that works well with Russell’s piano adaptations. Bonnie Bramlett is perfectly suited for and sings magnificently interpreting Chuck Willis’ “Don’t Deceive Me (Please Don’t Go.)” I never cared for Delaney’s “Never Ending Song of Love,” and the most redeeming quality on his “Sing My Way Home” is hearing Duane Allman plugged-in and playing amplified slide guitar. The often covered “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” is pretty sweet but do not assume any sort of an extended romp you might have expected from this high-caliber and potentially potent jam band. The original recording closes with the Bramlett’s and Leon Russell’s “Lonesome and a Long Way from Home” that adds (uncredited) harmonica and violin that makes for a good feel glowing finale.
The bonus tracks kickoff with Eric Clapton’s (who does not appear) “I’ve Told You for the Last Time” isn’t memorable though (I think it’s Dave Mason) soloing sharply on acoustic. The Bramlett’s “Long Road Ahead” coauthored with Radle is kind of neat, though Delaney and Mac Davis’ “Gift of Love” is disjointed. There’s an (alternate take) of “Come on in My Kitchen” that’s basically Delaney and Bonnie singing over (probably) Duane Allman’s slide guitar. Delaney’s “Blues” finds Mr. Bramlett vocally carrying the tune accompanied by an amplified guitarist; this track is tedious and too long at (5:37.) There’s another take at “Lonesome and a Long Way from Home” that sounds like a demo, it’s also too lengthy (5:22,) though there’s a pretty nifty acoustic guitar solo segment. Joseph Scriven’s “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” sounds like the whiskey jar had been passed around many times and it feels like it’s time for some needed shuteye. J.R. Baxter’s “Farther Along” concludes this expanded edition of “Motel Shot” where it’s definitely time for these folks to hit the sheets, goodnight!
Those expecting extended all-star jams (like me) need to know that no such jam(s) arise. This recording is mostly acoustic and features the (sometimes fine) vocal abilities of Delaney & Bonnie and a handful of others. It’s noteworthy to add that after trying to capture these tracks in engineer Bruce Botnick’s living room – Delaney & Bonnie and their friends wound up laying down these tracks in a recording studio. That being said my favorite liner note comes from Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman who quotes Jerry Wexler as saying “I should have listened to you!” Referring to what a pain in the ass Delaney Bramlett was. Long story short: These were days when artists were given artistic freedom to record an unusual album like “Motel Shot.” Though this is album was not captured in a motel, hotel, Bruce Botnick’s living room, or at a gospel church, it was actually shot in a recording studio. Nonetheless: it’s a worthy achievement, albeit one of Delaney & Bonnie’s final hurrahs.
# # #
For 18 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio shows.
On-demand Homegrown Sounds of Blue internet radio shows can always be found at: www.soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm
Sounds of Blue also streams on Wed & Fri at John Sinclair’s www.RadioFreeAmsterdam.com
Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for Yonkers Tribune.
Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.
Putignano can be contacted at: BobP@SoundsofBlue.com
Become friends with Bob Putignano at: https://www.facebook.com/bob.putignano.1