With friends like these, who needs amplifiers?

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Delaney & Bonnie and Friends: Motel Shot

We know a number of musicians, and pretty much all of them share the view of bassist Mike Prokopf, that bands are paid to haul equipment and they play for free.

It’s a common complaint among musicians, especially when they’re on the road. You spend so much time hauling equipment, driving hundreds of miles from one gig to the next, hanging out in cheap motel rooms waiting to play or winding down after, and so little time actually making music.

That’s the concept behind this brilliant gem of an album. First released on vinyl in 1971 and rereleased on CD at least four different times [yes, it’s that good], Motel Shot is the kind of music a band plays after the gig, when they’re back at the motel and not ready to sleep or stop playing. All the instruments are acoustic—can’t make too much noise and everything’s packed away anyway. The drummer just beats on an emptied suitcase for the same reasons. An old upright piano has been found somewhere, maybe in the motel lounge. And everyone is playing for the sheer joy of making music.

Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett were a husband and wife duo in the 60s and 70s, labeled a “blue-eyed soul” duo, but playing music that ranged from soul to blues, rock and gospel, with a little jam band thrown in for good measure. They’ve been cited as a great influence on Eric Clapton, George Harrison and others, and though her husband got top billing, Bonnie is one of the most soulful singers you’ll ever hear. The friends on this particular Delaney & Bonnie and Friends outing include Gram Parsons, Leon Russell, Dave Mason and Duane Allman.

The dozen tracks on Motel Shot range from a tent revivalesque, stirring Will the Circle Be Unbroken to an over-the-top Rock of Ages, Robert Johnson’s delta classic Come on in My Kitchen and the improbable hit single from the original album, Never Ending Song of Love.

It also includes a stellar showcase for Bonnie’s talent, Don’t Deceive Me [Please Don’t Go]. The YouTube video below will give you a little taste of the band’s sound and Bonnie’s incredible gift. The song isn’t on Motel Shot, but you’ll still get a sense of the amazing music awaiting you on this album, if you’re lucky enough to find it.

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