Delaney and Bonnie and Friends is a seven-man-one-woman “Rhythm and Country Blues” group with an album a ready cut for Stax-Volt, a second LP upcoming from Elektra, the label they signed with last week. (However, the band will be on the Apple label in England.) The first album, as yet unreleased, has the Stax-Volt sound. Delaney and Bonnie, who are husband and wife, were deep into blues in this period—the album was cut a year ago—and Bonnie sounds (there’s no other way to say it) Gospel-black. Headlining at the Whiskey a Go Go last week, there was was more of a country sound.
Others in the band are Leon Russell, from Tulsa, formerly of the Asylum Choir, on lead guitar; Jim Keltner, Tulsa, formerly with the MC-Squared and Gabor Szabo; Carl Radle, also Tulsa, formerly with Colors, on bass; Bobby Whitlock, Memphis, on organ and singing falsetto; Bobby Keys, Lubbock, Texas, on tenor sax; and Ken Lindsey, also from the South, on trumpet and fleugelhorn. Three years ago, Delaney Bramlett, who is from Mississippi, was lead singer of the Shindogs—that duo on Shindig—and his wife, born in Missouri, is reputed to be the only white singer who has ever toured with the Ikettes. The band is also the only white group ever to have been signed by StaxVolt.
The third new group, Dillard-Clark and the Expedition, also has two lead singers, Gene Clark, formerly of the Byrds, and Douglas Dillard of the Dillards. They have their roots in bluegrass and C&W and cme from an area noted for root music, Missouri. “We are doing mixtures of all the things we’ve picked up in our travels through the years,” says Dillard. “Much of the music we’ve written for the album (on A&M) sounds like bluegrass—but also has elements of jazz mixed with it. It’s really not traditional, yet it has the traditional sound and the traditional-type harmonies. We now use all electric instruments, but still all solid country with a lot of vocals, sometimes four-part.”
The Expedition part of the band includes another ex-Byrd, Michael Clarke on drums; Dave Jackson, formerly with the Good Time Singers, New Christy Minstrels and Hearts & Flowers, on bass; and Bernie Leadon, another ex-Heart & Flower, on guitar. Their first album has been released and currently they are cutting an old Elvis Presley hit, “Don’t Be Cruel,” as their next single.
The fourth group, and perhaps the flashiest–at least so far as appearance is concerned — is the Flying Burrito Brothers. Led by Chris Hillman, still another ex-Byrd, and Gram Parsons, formerly of the International Submarine Band and the Byrds, this group has been dressed by Nudie, a Hollywood-based Western costumer who drives a Cadillac with a Continental kit that features pistols and rifles mounted on the fenders and trunk, a saddle embedded with silver dollars between the bucket seats. Parsons’ white linen suit is covered with sequined marijuana plants and poppies; Hillman’s white suit has a red-sequined sunburst on the back.
There are three others in the band–someone called Sneaky Pete who plays steel guitar; Chris Ethridge, who has played with Johnny Rivers and Judy Collins, on bass; and a drummer who hasn’t been decided upon. The sound is country, but not especially exciting. Headlining a Saturday night party at A&M, for whom they record, the only number that roused the 300-odd who were there was a reprise of an Everly Brothers hit, “Wake Up Little Susie.”
Nonetheless, the Burritos are soon leaving for England to join the Rolling Stones on a European tour beginning in March. They will remain in London to cut their second album with Keith Richards producing. The Burritos were scheduled to visit England two months ago to appear on the Stones’ TV special, but had to cancel when they were refused work permits.
It was also for this group that A&M threw its hoedown and the best thing about that evening was the square dancing. An unidentified local C&W band, complete with a caller in a Stetson and red neck, roused all the hippie folk there:
Now, number four you
Rip and snort
Head for the middle
And cut it short
As half a hundred longhaired folk laughed and bowed to their corners and then to their partners, joined hands and ripped and snorted again.
When you get an invitation to a record company press party, and a half a pound of straw falls out of the envelope, you begin to think something’s happening after all.