Band members Related acts
- Bonnie Bramlett (aka Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell) -- vocals
backing musicians (1978)
Rating: 2 stars **
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: minor ring wear on cover; promo stamp back cover
Catalog ID: 392
Best time to play: probably never
If you've read any of my Delaney and Bonnie comments you'll know that I'm not the biggest Bonnie Bramlett fan in the world. For the most part, her voice has always struck me as powerful, shrill and bombastic. Kinda' like Tina Turner on steroids.
Bramlett's fourth studio album, 1978's "Memories" teamed her with former Motown writer/producer Deke Richards. In addition to producing the collection, the late Richards kicked in a couple of songs and played keyboards on the album. Musically the album was kind of a mess with Bramlett clearly searching for musical direction and an audience. Her voice remained powerful with a couple of tracks revealing a darker, huskier timbre ('Writing On the Wall'), but her longstanding habit of over-singing and sounding screechy remained intact. In fact, her background singers frequently committed the same sin throughout the collection. Musically the set was all over the roadmap. 'Writing On the Wall', 'Except for Real' and 'Lies' were all big ballads seemingly written with an ear to radio play. 'Holding On To You' and a cover of Stevie Winwood's 'Can't Find My Way Home' found her operating in a blues-rock arena. About the best I can say is that it was all competent and professional, though seldom particularly exciting.
"Memories" track listing:
1.) Holdin' On To You (Dolly Parton) - 2:55
album opened up with a surprisingly good cover of Dolly Parton's 'Holdin' On
To You'. Revamping the song as a Gospel-tinged blues-rocker, the track
showcased how good Bramlett could be when she avoided over-singing (well,
most of the time). That said, the real charm on this one came in
the form of Jay
opening drums which has become a favorite with samplers. rating:
of two Richards compositions, 'Writing On the Wall' was a big, commercial
ballad seeming written for maximum radio exposure. The song was
nice enough - easy to picture Diana Ross taking a stab at it, but the
interesting facet was Bramlett's performance which revealed a deeper,
huskier timbre than norm. Surprisingly enjoyable, though it would have
been even better without some of the heavy orchestration. rating:
for Real' was a country-tinged ballad with one of those dreadful 'poor girl'
lyrics. English lit majors were certain to lap up the life-is-tough-as-a-lonely-girl
lyrics. Everyone else; probably not. rating:
Another sappy, over-orchestrated radio-ready ballad, 'Lies' was completely forgettable. rating: ** stars
5.) I've Just Seen A Face (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:11
exactly the best Beatles cover I've ever stumbled across, Bramlett's
arrangement held on to the original arrangement, but tried to jazz it up
with a poorly though out up tempo blues-rock arrangement. Damn
if she didn't sound a but like Tina Turner on this one.
Different, but not particularly enjoyable.
rating: ** stars
credit where due, Bramlett's country-tinged cover of Steve Winwood's 'Can't
Find My Way Home' was great. Once again shifting into her lower vocal
registry, she mostly stayed away from being shrill and screechy (leaving it
to her backing singer). Sticking to the song's original structure and
melody, the musical spotlight was on banjo player Joel
Ferguson and guitarist Ricky
Hirsch who made it one of the standout performances. rating:
Flame Blinds The Moth' was a competent, but unexciting
blues-rock tinged ballad. The addition of an adult contemporary sax
solo didn't add much to the arrangement. rating:
second Richards composition, 'Can't Stay' sounded like a Motown track (not
surprising since Richards wrote a bunch of material for the label).
Surrounded by an increasingly "urgent" arrangement, it was
probably the album's most commercial offering.
rating: *** stars
One of two originals, the title track sounded a bit like something Jimmy Buffett might have written. A breezy, mid-tempo country-rocker, the song sported some nice David Pinkston pedal steel guitar. Stripped of Bramlett's screechy vocal and some of the orchestration, this one could have been really good. rating: ** stars
The album quickly vanished into cutout bins and within a year Bramlett was working as a backing singer for Stephen Stills which is where she attracted much of her notoriety. As part of Stills touring band, in April 1979 Bramlett was introduced to Elvis Costello at a Columbus, Ohio Holiday Inn. The ensuing conversation found Costello at his most obnoxious, making obscene comments about Americans in general and American musicians including Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, James Brown, and Ray Charles. Bramlett took offense and either slapped, or punched Costello in the face, which then erupted into a brief brawl between the two entourages. After being showered with death threats, a couple of days later a contrite Costello apologized for his behavior; later claiming he was purposely being rude in order to end the conversation.
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