Delaney & Bonnie

Stax, 1969


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Delaney & Bonnie are the band that never was, yet everyone who played with them went on to greater things – most notably Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, George Harrison and Leon Russell. This lack of attention is not anything the husband and wife duo did wrong; it's just that those artists took the soul/rock sound and made it more accessible and commercial.

Home is a standard selection of Motown-meets rock, not as crunchy as Creedence Clearwater Revival or as bluesy as Cream. Instead, it's another example of white people remaking the black sound – not surprising, since many of these songs were written by black artists such as Isaac Hayes and David Porter. The sound is obviously Motown and decidedly retro; Sam & Dave or Wilson Pickett could have sung and I wouldn't have noticed a difference.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's not that these are bad qualities. There is an innocence here that was very out of step with the turmoil of the era, especially a year in which dozens of classic albums were released. A classic this is not, especially because it's derivative of so many other artists and brings nothing new to the table, but it's still a pleasant listen.

Bonnie sounds like a second-rate Janis Joplin on most of the disc, which is obvious long before she attempts a cover of “Piece of My Heart,” which closed the original disc and, while still a good song, doesn't hold a candle to Janis. Sadly, it is the most memorable track here – none of the rest of this is catchy, hook-laden or something I'd want to listen to again. Don't get me wrong, this is not bad, but it's just boring and by 1969 had been done to death.

If one listens to oldies radio, they'll get the best Stax had to offer – and speaking of, Booker T. and the MGs play on most of these songs; as the Stax house band, they helped define this sound. But without the passion of an Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett, the tunes just sort of sit there. It's tough to explain why this doesn't catch fire – it has the ingredients of light soul/rock made popular by other artists, but it just doesn't work with Delaney and Bonnie leading the band.

The bonus re-release adds six extra tracks, but they sound just like the rest of the original disc. “Get Ourselves Together” has a folk hippie vibe that Grand Funk Railroad would lyrically exploit over the next few years, and “Hard to Say Goodbye” sounds almost like Chicago but without the smarminess that would plague that band's later work.

But three decent tracks are not enough to save the other 13, and while this isn't offensive by any means, it's not worth sitting through. Delaney and Bonnie may have been professional, but they certainly weren't exciting or original, as this disc proves. Only fans of late-60s folk or white soul need to bother.

Rating: D

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© 2006 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Stax, and is used for informational purposes only.