Bonnie Bramlett - vocals; Ricky Hirsch - guitar; Allen Kaatz - guitar; Robert Wilson - bass; Rick Allen Sutherland - piano, organ; Big John Thomassie - drums; Patty Smith, Carolyn Brandt - backing vocals
This, the first of two shows recorded at New York's famed Bottom Line club, was presented on a tour designed to be a comeback for blue-eyed soul belter Bonnie Bramlett. Although she had released one solo album on Columbia Records after the dissolution of both her marital and musical partnership with singer/songwriter/guitarist Delaney Bramlett in 1972, she had stopped recording and touring for a while to raise their daughter, Bekka. Eventually, she returned to the music scene and moved over to the Southern rock home base of Capricorn Records; this tour was essentially her rock 'n' roll coming out party for that affiliation.
Bonnie Bramlett has a long and illustrious musical history. As teenager Bonnie Lynn O'Ferrell, she had backed blues legends Albert King and Little Milton. In the mid-1960s, she moved to Los Angeles where, as the only-ever white Ikette, she backed Ike and Tina Turner. There, while taping an episode of the rock music dance show Shindig!, she met the house band's guitarist, Delaney Bramlett. They were married a week later, and shortly thereafter, Delaney, Bonnie and Friends was formed. By the late 1960s, Delaney and Bonnie were touring the U.K., opening for the Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood super group Blind Faith. From there, Clapton joined D&B for the next year and, when he left, took their band with him - and in so doing formed the legendary Derek and the Dominoes. The Bramletts, however, endured for another two years ,and had a handful of Top 20 hits including "Never Ending Song Of Love" and "Only You Know And I Know."
On this recording, Bonnie attempts to recapture the magic of the soul/gospel/country/blues/rock mix that she and Delaney had so carefully crafted. The material on her solo albums was never as good as what D&B had done (none of these songs made it to radio play lists), and Delaney's ability to arrange songs is sorely missed, but she comes pretty damn close more than a couple of times, especially on the funked-out version of the Dolly Parton song "Holding On To You" and the old Delaney and Bonnie R&B rocker "Living On The Open Road."
Regardless, Bramlett certainly proves on this recording that she was still in possession of some remarkable vocal chops. Her powerful growl surfaces more than once during this show, and her backing band is more than adequate. Among the highlights are the soulful ballad, "Don't Know Why," her rocked out version of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," her gospel remake of The Beatles' "I've Just Seen A Face" and the retrospective ode "Can't Stay With You Tonight," written for her ex-husband. "I wrote this song," she tells the audience, "because I fell in love with a tremendous liar. I still love him, and he's still lying."