50 best voices, 50 forgotten songs
July 22, 2010, 5:27 am
Filed under: 50 best voices, 50 forgotten songs

bonnie bramlett, born alton, illinois (1944), with ex-husband delaney bramlett

bonnie bramlett, along with her then husband, delaney invaded england and took the country by storm in 1969 with their soulful southern church sound. they opened for blind faith on a british jaunt, but by the end of the year eric clapton had left blind faith, and joined george harrison to become part of delaney & bonnie & friends. their regular band included leon russell on piano, rita coolidge, backup singer, and soon to be stones’ horn man bobby keys (who wails on “brown sugar” and is still a part of the stones touring band).

bonnie was the only white ikette in the ike and tina turner revue, and it would have been her voice screaming “war children, it’s just a shot away. love, sisters, it’s just a kiss away” on the stone’s masterful “gimme shelter” had she not had a cold that fateful day (it is mary clayton’s voice that is indelibly printed in our minds on that song). probably one of the most soulful white singers around, tis a pity that one of her best moments on vinyl was reduced to rubbish when karen carpenter changed the title and  lyrics, and made a once mournful tune a sappy piece of  saccharine (as was the case with all of miss carpenter’s sorry history). however, bonnie’s version of the song she wrote with leon russel and sang on the last album d&b recorded before their split is, hands down, one of the great moments on vinyl:

“groupie (superstar)” by delaney & bonnie & friends, (1969, written by bonnie bramlett & leon russell, produced by delaney bramlett for a&m records, from the album “d&b together”)

the carpenters changed the title to “superstar”, and changed the lyrics from “i can harldy wait and sleep with you again” to “be with you again”. so the most popular version of this much recorded song, is the worst version. miss bramlett’s back up singer, the young rita coolidge, who modeled her early voice on bonnie’s, did a wonderful version as a solo, when touring as part of joe cocker’s mad dogs and englishmen band (whose members were all veterns of d&b’s first band). bette midler also turned “groupie” into a real torch number on her debut album “the divine miss m”, but bonnie bramlett’s original is known by only those in the know. become one!

[all of these lost songs can be found on youTube, most as audio vids with slideshows. try if you can to figure out which is the original recording, sometimes it isn’t quite obvious and pictomat does not post links because they change frequently]


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