Delbert & Glen – Blind, Crippled and Crazy
It was a long wait but after forty years, the acclaimed duo of Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark are back together with a project full of wry humor, great music and the instinctive harmony vocals that seemingly come naturally to the long-time friends.
After they cut two records in the early 70’s, the pair went their separate ways. McClinton rose to fame and developed a devoted fan base by continuing to play his brand of roots music that featured blues, rock, R&B, and a touch of soul with a strong Texas accent. Clark gravitated to California where he flourished as a songwriter, with tunes covered by classic singers like Etta James and Loretta Lynn. Clark also was in demand for his keyboard work, serving stints with Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson before settling in for a lengthy run as the musical composer for Jim Belushi’s hit TV show, According to Jim.
Borrowing the title from a O.V. Wright hit song, the duo offer up a batch of songs that take a look back, reflecting on life’s lessons and some of the mistakes made before those lessons had a chance to sink in. They refuse to admit to aging but concede on opening track that they have ”Been Around a Long Time”. They trade lead vocal lines, then hit you with superb harmonizing on the chorus. Bruce Katz adds some pumping piano and James Pennebaker’s fiddle adds a touch of country. Even better is “Oughta Know”, written by McClinton’s son Clay, which delves into our knack for going against our better judgment despite the warning signs. The cut benefits from an ample dose of guitarist Anson Funderburgh’s tasteful playing.
Clark is featured on two songs he co-wrote with Jeff Silbar with “World of Hurt” describing the devastating effects of love lost while “Just When I Need You the Most” is a gentle ballad that has Katz on piano and Hammond B3 filling the space around Clark’s vocal full of earthy charm. His voice has a higher pitch and is a bit thinner than his partner’s but he can still handle a strong rocker like his original “Tell My Mama”.
McClinton contributes several tunes written with Gary Nicholson, another musical partner. “More and More, Less and Less” addresses how our outlook on life changes with age with the songwriters on acoustic guitars while Bob Britt adds some haunting electric guitar. The hard-charging “Somebody to Love You” is a duet with Clark that reminds us that all life has to offer means little without love in your life.
“Peace in the Valley” rocks even harder with McClinton waxing nostalgic about a departed lover who was the life of the party. Nicholson rips off a fiery guitar solo that is matched by Kevin McKendree on piano. Tom Hambridge, who had a hand in writing the tune, sits in on drums. Other musicians contributing to the project include Mike Joyce on bass, Jack Bruno on drums and Kenny Malone on percussion.
Pennebaker’s steel guitar licks ride the lazy pace of “Sure Feels Good” as Clark and McClinton once again take turns espousing the benefits of living life based on the hard-earned wisdom of experience. McClinton goes deep into the emotional well on “If I Could be Your Lover”, a gripping plea for attention. Stuart Duncan heightens the tension with a forlorn violin solo but softens things a bit by doubling on mandolin.
The end result is a disc that is sure to please all of the Delbert McClinton fans and will certainly strike a chord with anyone who was listening to Delbert & Glenn forty years ago. But this is no exercise in nostalgia. These two old friends continue to make vibrant music that will resonate will listeners of all ages, making this one highly recommended!