" On Tour with Eric Clapton "
Rhino Handmade

This four CD box set marks the fortieth anniversary of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett on tour with Eric Clapton. The set captures four shows from three nights in 1969 where Delaney and Bonnie fronted an extremely tight band. Most of this band moved on to work with Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishman, and later, Clapton, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, and Bobby Whitlock became Derek & the Dominos. Many of the songs are repeated, but this band really glistens and also offers appearances from George Harrison and Dave Mason on guitars. Additionally there's Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns, percussionist Tex Johnson, singer Rita Coolidge, round out this very impressive gathering of musicians.

Set highlights include "Gimme Some Lovin,'" and the Little Richard medley, including "Tutti Frutti," "The Girl Can't Help It," "Long Tall Sally," and "Jenny Jenny." The classic "Coming Home" was performed at all four shows, and it gets hotter each time. Two instrumentals captured my ears; the twice performed "Opening Jam," a wonderful vehicle for Clapton and the propulsive horns, and "Pigmy," a solid jamming piece for all members in the band.

Sonically these forty year old recordings sound remarkably fresh and vibrant, though there are some glitches, especially on one of the renditions of "Gimme Some Lovin'" where the vocals are inaudible. The on-stage chats come from Delaney, who makes an interesting comment about the 1970 debut Clapton album "Clapton Sings." I suspect that Delaney was referring to Eric's first solo record, the one that Delaney played a large roll in, and also featured many of the band members from these recordings.

Is this box set worth $79.98? Depends on your perspective of wanting to own multiple versions of the songs performed here, but make no mistake the musicianship level is high throughout. Plus it's interesting to see how the songs evolved from night to night. The packaging is unique, the four discs are enclosed in what looks to be a musician's road case/travel bag, and Rhino's detailed track listings with musician credits are always welcomed *Note: Rhino Handmade products are offered in limited quantities and become increasingly collectible after going out of print.

Bob Putignano: