Motel Shot (Expanded Edition)

Original release:
CD: Real Gone Music RGM-0516 (2017)

Other releases:

LP: Run Out Groove A ROGV-016 (2018)

  1.   Where The Soul Never Dies
  2.   Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  3.   Rock Of Ages
  4.   Long Road Ahead
  5.   Faded Love
  6.   Talkin' About Jesus
  7.   Come On In My Kitchen
  8.   Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go)
  9.   Never Ending Song Of Love
10.   Sing My Way Home
11.   Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad
12.   Lonesome And A Long Way From Home
Bonus tracks:
13.   I've Told You For The Last Time
14.   Long Road Ahead (alternate take)
Gift Of Love
Come On In My Kitchen (alternate take)
18.   Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (alternate take)
19.   What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Farther Along

Duane Allman plays on tracks 7, 10, 11 & 15.

Track 15 ("Gift Of Love") was previously released


with a different mix on the 7-CD box set:


'Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective'


(Rounder Records11661-9137-2, 2013):


Duane Allman might also play on tracks 16 & 17.

Here are some excerpts of the liner notes by Pat Thomas, Los Angeles, CA November 2016:

. . . 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 . . .


Delaney & Bonnie’s new ‘Shot’

Three releases (L-R): Delaney & Bonnie’s original “Motel Shot” U.S. release (1971, Atco),
the Expanded Edition (2017, Real Gone) and a 1971 European release.

By Bill Kopp
Published on in May 1, 2017

As the 1960s rolled over into 1970, popular music was undergoing a seismic shift. The full reasons aren’t totally clear; maybe it was the disillusionment in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Perhaps it was the cumulative shock experienced at the daily news of the disastrous war in southeast Asia. Maybe it was a collective recoiling in horror at the tragic concert at California’s Altamont Speedway. Or perhaps society was stunned by the supposed hard-rock inspiration that led followers of Charles Manson to commit grisly murders.

Whatever the reason or reasons, many popular figures in pop music abruptly turned away from the psychedelic and acid-rock trends of just a few months prior, and moved toward a more pastoral, often folk/acoustic-based style of music. Of course the hard rock hadn’t gone away: Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were already rumbling in the distance. But a number of prominent rockers unplugged and headed — at least figuratively, often literally — for the green, green grass of home.

Among the most notable British artists to pursue this change in direction were Eric Clapton and George Harrison. As lead guitarists in two of the 1960s’ biggest groups, Cream and The Beatles, both men developed a deep, abiding and — as it would turn out, decades-long — fascination with and immersion in acoustic-based music. And a musical linchpin for both of them was the husband-and-wife duo, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Though they enjoyed success on their own, the Bramletts are most often remembered for their associations with other musicians.

Delaney and Bonnie led a loose and ever-changing conglomeration of musicians they called Delaney & Bonnie & Friends; the group grew out of The Shindogs, the Leon Russell-led “house band” for the popular TV program Shindig! Guitarist Bramlett and wife Bonnie (a former backup singer for the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, and the first white woman in that role) recorded their first album, “Home,” for Stax Records just as that label was running aground. At least in part due to Stax’s problems, the album sank without a trace in the musical marketplace of 1969.

But the duo was resilient and determined. A mere two months later, Delaney & Bonnie released “Accept No Substitute” on Elektra. It charted in the lower reaches of the Billboard album chart, but won rave reviews from critics. As it happened, right after Delaney & Bonnie finished recording “Accept No Substitute” in a proper studio, they began work on a third album. But for this one, they decided to take the most old-fashioned, laid-back approach possible. Instead of recording in a studio setting, with the advantages of audio separation, overdubbing and other technological advances, they would record straight to a portable tape machine, with their musical friends gathered together in a motel room.

Well, not exactly: Pat Thomas, musical archivist and curator of the new Real Gone Music release “Motel Shot: Expanded Edition,” picks up the narrative. “The album was originally recorded in Bruce Botnick’s living room,” he explains. Botnick had gained fame as the recording engineer on all of The Doors’ albums, and also engineered Love’s classic “Forever Changes” and The Rolling Stones’ “Let it Bleed.” To record what was supposed to be “Motel Shot,” Thomas says, “They obviously needed a controlled environment, [something] a little better than a motel room.”

The “Motel Shot” sessions were like early Delaney & Bonnie & Friends sessions in that they feature pretty much whomever happened by. While there aren’t definitive session notes, Bonnie Bramlett — as quoted in Thomas’ liner notes for the new expanded reissue — recalls Joe Cocker, Gram Parsons, Buddy Miles and Leon Russell all taking part in the original sessions. “The thing was, it was kind of a party,” says Thomas, chuckling at the thought. “It was a jam.”

As best as anyone can determine, with close to half a century having passed since — those living room sessions took place sometime in the summer of 1970, and were being readied for release on Elektra later that year. Rolling Stone even made a brief mention of the album’s impending release in an August 1969 issue [the correct date is August 6, 1970].

Yet problems arose almost immediately. “There’s this intimate story of Delaney visiting his dad in the deep south,” Thomas explains. “And he couldn’t find ‘Accept No Substitute’ for sale in his hometown. So he threatened (Elektra head) Jac Holzman with his life, and Jac immediately dropped Delaney & Bonnie from the label.” The planned release of “Motel Shot” was canceled.

Delaney & Bonnie soon landed on Atlantic subsidiary label Atco, the duo’s third label in two years (their fourth, if you count an abortive deal with the Beatles’ Apple Records). There they quickly released “On Tour with Eric Clapton,” a live album recorded in 1969. Six months after that record’s release came the studio album “To Bonnie from Delaney.” The “& Friends” lineup on that record included guitarist Duane Allman, R&B saxophonist King Curtis, Little Richard and pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow.

Meanwhile, the “Motel Shot” living room tapes languished on the shelf. “When Atlantic picked up Delaney & Bonnie,” Thomas says, “they decided to buy those tapes. But they sat on ’em.” The time for release finally came in March 1971, six months on the heels of “To Bonnie from Delaney.”

But the decision-makers at Atco weren’t satisfied with the quality of the session tapes. And there was little that could be done to improve them. “The living room sessions are very old-school,” says Thomas. Botnick recorded them “direct to a two-track tape, with just a couple of mics; kind of the way they recorded Elvis in the early days. You got what you got.”

So Atco sent Delaney & Bonnie back into the studio — joined by Duane Allman, Gram Parsons, Bobby Whitlock, (possibly) Nicky Hopkins as well as other friends — with the mission of re-recording the songs in higher fidelity. (According to Pat Thomas’ liner notes, “Bonnie has no memory of going back into a real studio and re-cutting the tracks.) Botnick recalls drummers Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon taking part in the sessions, but disputes claims that Cocker was present. “I would have remembered,” he told Thomas in an interview for the expanded CD reissue. Even for the studio sessions, it’s not clear who played what. “We don’t really know,” admits Thomas. “It’s still a little ambiguous.”

The “Motel Shot” that finally saw release would consist almost completely of material from the studio sessions. On release, it fared well, reaching No. 65 on Billboard’s album chart. A surprise hit single, “Never Ending Song of Love” rose to No. 13 on the singles charts. Even in its more refined state, “Motel Shot” captured the homespun ambiance that was central to Delaney & Bonnie’s music. “What you have on this album is just a very organic group of people sitting around playing,” Thomas says.

He reflects on the appeal of the duo’s style, describing it as “great American rootsy rock ‘n’ roll music: adapting gospel songs and old folk songs, and modernizing them.” Those qualities are what originally attracted their high-profile admirers. “There’s a reason Clapton heard them and broke up Cream. He wanted to do more rootsy stuff. There’s a reason why — as The Beatles were disintegrating — George Harrison sat in with them. This,” Thomas says, “is the real Americana.”

Delaney & Bonnie would only make one more album together, 1972’s “D&B Together”; that record received poor reviews and didn’t sell well; by the time of its making, the couple’s marriage was on the rocks, and they divorced soon thereafter. Delaney went on to record and release seven more albums as a solo artist; he also played and sang on sessions for Clapton, Commander Cody, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. He died in 2008, and was posthumously inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2011. Bonnie Bramlett went on to release eight or more albums of new material as a solo artist. Her acting career included small film roles and a recurring role on the TV series Roseanne.

Interest in Delaney & Bonnie’s work would endure; a 1990 best-of CD has remained in print for more than 25 years; it features three cuts off “Motel Shot.” In 2010, Rhino Records released a 4-CD box set documenting the entire concert from which “On Tour with Eric Clapton” was sourced, including three CDs worth of additional live recordings from that tour. The latter three feature George Harrison on guitar.

In the wake of the success of that expanded “On Tour with Eric Clapton” release, one of the people closely associated with the project approached Pat Thomas. Fellow archivist Mason Williams (not the guitarist of the same name) told him there remained a cache of unreleased Delaney & Bonnie material. Thomas got in touch with engineer/producer Bill Inglot, who began research on the original living room session tapes for “Motel Shot.” “Bill is a fan,” says Thomas, “so he and I tag-teamed listening to this unreleased material and picking the tracks.”

The results of their efforts is “Motel Shot: Expanded Edition,” released by Real Gone Music on February 3. The new edition features the original album in its entirety, plus eight bonus tracks from the earlier, Botnick-engineered sessions. The ‘71 LP featured twelve cuts, more than half of which were traditional gospel songs (“Where the Soul Never Dies,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Rock of Ages,” etc.) or standards (blues pioneer Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen,” a cover of “Faded Love,” the 1950 Western swing tune by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys). The remaining tracks — including “Never Ending Song of Love” — are original compositions by Delaney Bramlett.

The eight “new” tracks include an original blues (unimaginatively titled “Blues”), three early takes of songs later re-recorded during the studio sessions, a couple more standards, and an acoustic reading of the Delaney Bramlett-Mac Davis original, “Gift of Love.” The latter song had appeared in an electric arrangement on “Accept No Substitute.” On “Motel Shot: Expanded Edition,” it’s a spare arrangement built around acoustic slide guitar and the vocal harmonies of Delaney & Bonnie.

Another bonus track of note is “I’ve Told You for the Last Time.” Eric Clapton had recorded the song — written by Delaney, Bonnie and Booker T & the MG’s guitarist Steve Cropper — for his own self-titled debut, released in August 1970. The acoustic version on “Motel Shot” brings out the song’s gospel roots.

The expanded reissue of “Motel Shot” probably ends the search of Atco’s vaults for unreleased Delaney & Bonnie material. Thomas and co-producer/curator Inglot selected the best from the previously-unheard living room sessions. “There was a version of ‘Amazing Grace’ that Bill thought was a little inferior,” Thomas says. “And we didn’t want to completely duplicate the original album’s track listing, so we mostly went for bonus songs that weren’t on the original LP.”

Pat Thomas’ liner note essay for the new CD includes lively and illuminating quotes from Elektra’s Jac Holzman, engineer Bruce Botnick, keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, and Bonnie Bramlett. The original LP artwork, including lyrics sheet and an alternate cover, is also included in the booklet that accompanies the CD.

Thomas makes an important observation about Delaney & Bonnie’s place in music history. “Clapton and Harrison heard their music, and it turned them around. If you were to do one of those old-style Pete Frame Rock Family Trees,” he says, “they’d be right at the root of a big one.” He describes Delaney & Bonnie & Friends as the “godfathers and mothers” of the musical collective and scene that would spawn Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen. “Dave Mason hung out with these guys, and then some of the ‘& Friends’ became Eric Clapton’s back-up band: bassist Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon… and then of course many of them went on to Derek and the Dominos. It was a very creative and tumultuous time.”

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.

(click here to enlarge)