Friday, October 16, 2009

Delaney & Friends - Class Reunion








Review by Joe Viglione

Produced by Ray Ruff and Jimmy Bowen on the Motown imprint Prodigal Records, Delaney Bramlett does a soulful-by-way-of-Macon cover of the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain," a good idea to try to break out of Motown with the label's own weaponry and a Top Five hit from 1968. It's an excellent re-working. Bramlett lists in his thank yous about a thousand friends -- no exaggeration -- on the back cover, from Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton to ex-wife Bonnie Bramlett, but Class Reunion by Delaney Bramlett & Friends is a different clan: Fanny'sPatti Quatro, guitarist Spider Taylor, drummers Stu Perry and Jim Keltner, and a duet with ABC artist Susie Allanson on "For Old Times Sake." Make no mistake, this is more a Delaney Bramlett album like his 1973 CBS outing, Mobius Strip, than a class-reunion project, though it does have a classy sound. The only obvious holdovers from Mobius Strip are Clydie King on backing vocals, songwriter Doug Gilmore, and manager John Bramlett. That being said, this album is very, very strong. "Everyday's a Holiday," the one track written by Bramlett, Peter Spellman, and Doug Gilmore, is a standout among ten funky, thoughtful, engrossing essays of Southern pop. Sometimes changing labels can jump start a career, but Motown was an anomaly, not able to deliver album projects the way it did hit singles in the '60s. Had Delaney Bramlett stayed on CBS and gotten support, a pure pop tune like "You Can't Measure My Love," sounding so much like an earthy Mac Davis, might've been a huge adult contemporary hit. Bramlett goes from sounding like the voice of Eric Clapton by way of Terri Gibbs on "Locked up in Alabama" (keep in mind that Gibbs hit with "Somebody's Knocking" four years after this album) to Ronnie Milsap, who, no coincidence, had a number one country hit on RCA when this album, Class Reunion, was released. As evidenced by the Genesis album of early Delaney & Bonnie and solo Bramlett tracks, the singer can be a chameleon and possesses an uncanny ability to have his own style while copping other voices simultaneously. Songwriter Randy Sharp contributes the last three titles: "Who You Gonna Blame It On," "You Were the Light," and the exquisite duet with Susie Allanson, "For Old Times Sake." What it proves is that Delaney Bramlett has major talent; had he and Bonnie stayed together, had they grown together on their CBS deal, they would have had a clear chance to dominate the charts and become an overwhelming presence in pop music. Class Reunion is a tragedy in that it is so good and so forgotten.



1 Locked up in Alabama
2 Every Day's a Holiday
3 I Wish It Would Rain
4 It's a Touchy Situation
5 You Can't Measure My Love
6 I Think I Got It
7 Invitation to a Heartbreak
8 For Old Times' Sake
9 Who You Gonna Blame It On
10 You Were the Light


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Jenaclap said...

Nice album from a very good soul-southern-bluesman. It's true that here's a great vocal work. I think Eric Clapton plays there too.


Salud,
Jenaclap

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