Here are some excerpts of the liner notes by Pat Thomas, Los Angeles, CA November 2016 from the 2017 CD release: 'Motel Shot - Expanded Edition' (Real Gone Music, RGM-0516):
. . .
In 1969, Elektra Records released
Delaney & Bonnie's Accept No Substitute . . .
. . . For years, a story has circulated that not long after the release of Accept No Substitute, Delaney was visiting his father in a small town in the deep south (one that very well may not even have had a record store), and angered by the fact he couldn't buy a copy of his new record for his daddy, he called Elektra Records boss Jac Holzman threatening him with bodily harm. Holzman's reaction was to dump the mercurial artist from his label pronto . . .
. . . In 1970, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends on Tour with Eric Clapton was released by ATCO (Atlantic Records), including their core band of Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, and Rita Coolidge . . .
. . . By the time Delaney & Bonnie went into the studio to record To Bonnie From Delaney (the second ATCO album to feature their name), their backing band of Gordon, Price, Keys, Radle, and Coolidge had split to hook up with Joe Cocker & Leon Russell's Mad Dogs & Englishmen - only Bobby Whitlock stayed loyal . . .
. . . So, with Motel Shot emerging as their third ATCO release in 1971, very few people realized that it had originally begun as an Elektra project - again, owing to the legend that Delaney & Bonnie had been booted off the label minutes after Accept No Substitute was released . . .
. . . The liner notes to the Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective box set mention that the Motel Shot sessions were recorded in November 1970. However, the August 6th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone mentions that Elektra is "readying Delaney & Bonnie's all acoustic Motel Shot." So it seems that it had already been recorded, while another issue of Rolling Stone from that period includes an Elektra ad for Motel Shot . . .
. . . As Bill Inglot and I began to pour through the various 2-track stereo mixdown tapes for this album, comparing the released album to the "out-takes," it quickly became apparent that Atlantic Records had put Delaney & Bonnie and Friends into a proper studio after acquiring the (more) raw "motel sessions" tapes. We also found out that it was never recorded in a motel, but in the living room of the engineer for all The Doors' albums, Bruce Botnick.
Motel Shot as it was originally released is mostly comprised of the fuller, richer sounds of a proper studio (done on Atlantic's dime), while the previously unreleased "out-takes" included on this CD are all drawn from the original Elektra living room sessions. In other words, the original Motel Shot album is a combo of the original living room and the later "real studio" recordings, while all the previously unreleased "out-takes" included on this CD are drawn from the original Elektra living room sessions . . .
. . . When we spoke with Bonnie, she had no recall of going into the studio for a complete redo, while Bobby Whitlock had a vague memory of it. One thing is for certain - the living room sessions couldn't have been remixed later to sound better, because Botnick confirms he recorded everything direct to two-track, eliminating the ability to do a more complex, multi-track mix . . .
. . . The musician credits are an all-star grab-bag including Dave Mason, Duane Allman, Leon Russell, Gram Parsons, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle, and John Hartford accompanying the core trio of Delaney, Bonnie, and Bobby Whitlock. Many other musicians are rumored to have appeared, stopped by or just have been hanging out including Joe Cocker (as a percussionist banging on the side of a piano, providing a bass-drum-like boom) and Buddy Miles using the side of a briefcase as a drum. Those two and others might be the 'and a cast of?' listed in the original credits . . .
. . . Bruce Botnick: It was one stereo microphone, actually. On one of the takes I had written "Microphone distance" and what-not, like that...anyway, it was in our home in the Hollywood Hills off of Beachwood Drive. The room was twenty-nine feet long, I remember that. I can't remember what the width was, probably twenty feet with all grey marble floors and it had a cathedral ceiling and there was room for a lot of people in there. I set up an Ampex 350 two-track machine in the living room with some outboard mic mixer and one stereo microphone, which was a Neumann SM-69 . . .
. . . Bonnie Bramlett: We recorded it live; Leon Russell, but also there was Joe Cocker, Gram Parsons, Buddy Miles was playing a briefcase on the acoustic broke-down versions and none of those people are mentioned on the album.
It was all done at Bruce's house trying to replicate what we used to do in motel rooms after the gigs. After a gig, we'd go back to the room and everyone would party and play. The drums would be the lamp or part of the bed or whatever - whoever was beating on it. Alan Pariser, who was our manager, just loved that - and wanted to capture that . . .
. . . Bruce Botnick: Did it finally originally get released on Atlantic? Yeah, I knew that they did overdubs and I believe that they did them at the studio in Santa Monica that Geordie Hormel owns [The Village Studios]. I can't think of the name of it. It's still there and it's still working . . .
. . . Bobby Whitlock: Later, I don't know why, we went back in the studio, because we already had what we had (from Bruce's place). But Delaney was game for it and he had an obligation to Atlantic and those people. But having said that, it was great fun to do. Everybody loved Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. We had Gram Parsons and of course, Duane Allman.
When things went south with Elektra, no problem - Alan [Pariser] brought us straight to Jerry Wexler. That was pretty much it. It was a great learning experience for me. It was right before my exit (from Delaney & Bonnie).
As far as going back into a real studio to redo Motel Shot, I think Atlantic wanted to make it more adaptable to radio airplay. In the studio it was very organized, there was not a bunch of nonsense going on. It was all about taking care of business.
[note: Bonnie has no memory of going back into a real studio and re-cutting the tracks.] . . .
. . . Bonnie Bramlett: All those songs that are piano-driven, That's Leon! However, one of those songs might be Nicky Hopkins, one night, yeah. I'm not sure which one it is, because Nicky came in with Joe Cocker. And Gram Parsons is on there somewhere (on guitar)... Delaney was always playing rhythm and I think it's Duane playing lead, Duane was staying with us then, during that whole time, he was living with us for months . . .
. . . Bonnie Bramlett: Jac Holzman at Elektra was a wonderful human being, but we had met Eric and Clapton was on Atlantic and we wanted to be on Atlantic and be produced by Jerry Wexler and Tommy Dowd and be big stars...and in order to be on Atlantic, Atlantic wanted the rights to the Motel Shot album, as they (Atlantic) didn't want Elektra to release it after (or on top of) whatever our Atlantic album was gonna be. Two albums on two different labels would just cancel each other out.
Jerry Wexler had just done something similar with Clive Davis and Aretha Franklin. He got Aretha from Clive, then Clive had released an Aretha-Columbia Records "best of" right on top of Aretha's Atlantic debut album. So that's what Atlantic was trying to avoid by getting Motel Shot from Elektra. So Jac being the wonderful human being that he is - agreed to that and for not a lot of money either, because we didn't have any money and it was us who was gonna have to buy those tapes back. We were gonna have to buy those tapes ourselves and then sell them to Atlantic, Atlantic wasn't gonna buy those tapes from Elektra. Jac was wonderful to us, he could have said no . . .
. . . Bonnie Bramlett: I believe the out-takes you hear on this CD are just the night before the actual session and they're just getting sounds and things - how the room sounded. That is real! That record is as much reality as you can put on a piece of plastic! Simple as that and that's what we tried to do. We cut live in the studio and I think what you're hearing on those out-takes is 'pre-production' - it happened the night before - they were getting sounds at Bruce's house . . .
From: "Sing My Way Home - Voices Of The New American Roots Rock" by Keith and Kent Zimmerman (Backbeat Books, 2004, page 35):
According to Bonnie Bramlett, the whole album was recorded in about four hours in producer/engineer Bruce Botnick's house in Los Angeles, CA. There were no multiple takes. The session lasted a single night. Twelve songs were elected as keepers. There were no drums, just a briefcase. "All that percussion on 'Going Down The Road Feeling Bad' was me [Bonnie Bramlett], Gram Parsons and Duane Allman smacking our laps. As a matter of fact, Duane played briefcase, too. Briefcase, lap and slide guitar."
From "A Rock 'n' Roll Autobiography" by Bobby Whitlock (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2011, page 64):
"It was recorded in two days. One day at Bruce Botnick's house and the other at Alan's [manager Alan Pariser] house."
According to Bobby Whitlock these recordings took place just before he went to England to join Eric Clapton in May 1970.
From the liner notes
of the 7-CD box set 'Skydog:
The Duane Allman Retrospective' (Rounder Records 11661-9137-2, 2013):
"Recorded November 1970 and mixed at Village Recorders, Los Angeles, CA."
From "Rolling Stone" (August 6, 1970):
A fall 1970 release of 'Motel Shot' on Elektra was announced. But the album was eventually released in March 1971 on ATCO.
here to enlarge)