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Delaney & Bonnie bring it on "Home"

Delaney & Bonnie's first and finest record, 1969’s "Home," was recorded at the Stax studios in Memphis with Stax house musicians joining the duo.

By Ray Chelstowski

For a group best known for the high profile names associated with their act, Delaney & Bonnie continue to remain largely unknown beyond the collector community.

Arguably two of the most accomplished young musicians to emerge in the late sixties both had established the kind of rock credentials by the age of twenty that most don’t earn in a lifetime. By the age of 15, Bonnie Bramlett had already performed live with Albert King and had become the only white girl to back Ike & Tina Turner as an official “Ikette.”

Delaney Bramlett was a Mississippi born guitarist who moved to L.A. and became a much sought-after session guitarist landing a full time gig with Leon Russell in the house band for the ABC musical variety show Shindig! There his talents became exposed to the biggest acts of the day.

After Shindig! ended, Delaney and Bonnie formed a self-named act that included “& Friends” to reflect the revolving door of musicians who moved in and out of their line up. These included Duane & Gregg Allman, Leon Russell, Bobby Whitlock, Rita Coolidge, King Curtis, Eric Clapton and others.

Their first and finest record, 1969’s "Home" was recorded at the Stax studios in Memphis. Stax house musicians Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones and Isaac Hayes joined the duo. Contributions from Clapton bassist Carl Radle and Leon Russell on keys rounded out the house band.

The duo was also armed with the Stax songwriting A-list but the material they were given wasn’t as strong or memorable as the music that the label had provided to top artists like Otis Redding. As a result, the album feels more like a raw, raucous, live act of solid rock & soul in the vein of "Mad Dogs & Englishmen," than a collection of chart climbing singles. There is however a real community vibe to the music and Stax released two singles from the album in the U.S., "It's Been a Long Time Coming" and "Hard to Say Goodbye." Neither charted.

Despite all of the A-list support, the record was a flop. Some argue that it never stood a chance because the label did so little to support the release. In a sense, the promotional hook for the record was self made. Delany & Bonnie were the first white act to be signed by the label and two weeks into recording Martin Luther King would be killed at a Memphis motel close to the Stax facility.

Stax didn’t touch any of this. Instead,"Home" was bundled into a label-wide 27 album promotional push. This was Stax’s last-ditch effort to jumpstart their late entry into the album era. While a dedicated promotional plan may have helped, what hurt "Home" most was the absence of a proper radio ready single.

Delaney & Bonnie would only produce this one record for Stax and quickly leave for Elektra. Their music would evolve a bit and take slightly different shape here and there. But what none of their other albums enjoy is the sheer energy that is found within these tracks. "Home" is a snapshot of both time and space. It so clearly reflects the sense of musical brotherhood that existed in the late '60s/early '70s acting as a true bridge between rock and soul, offering a modernized portrait of southern music, the very kind birthed in cabins like the one shown on the albums cover, the log cabin in Pontotoc Mississippi, where Delaney grew up — a metaphor for the moment and where this personal journey began.

Below is the value of the aforementioned album in Near Mint (NM) condition, according to Goldmine’s Record Album Price Guide, 8th Edition. Note: As a standard rule, a vinyl record in VG+ condition is 50% of NM value and VG record is 25% NM value.


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