RIP, Mose Allison, The Who’s favorite jazz musician.
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Leon Russell, the longhaired, scratchy-voiced pianist, guitarist, songwriter and bandleader who moved from playing countless recording sessions to making hits on his own, died on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. He was 74.
His death was announced on his website, which said that he had died in his sleep but gave no specific cause.
If you don’t know much about Russell except for a couple of hits, his career was remarkable.
With a top hat on his head, hair well past his shoulders, a long beard, an Oklahoma drawl in his voice and his fingers splashing two-fisted barrelhouse piano chords, Mr. Russell cut a flamboyant figure in the early 1970s. He led Joe Cocker’s band Mad Dogs & Englishmen, appeared at George Harrison’s 1971 Concert for Bangladesh and had hits of his own, including “Tight Rope.” His songs also became hits for others, among them “Superstar” (written with Bonnie Bramlett) for the Carpenters, “Delta Lady” for Joe Cocker and “This Masquerade” for George Benson. More than 100 acts have recorded “A Song for You,” a song Mr. Russell said he wrote in 10 minutes.
By the time Mr. Russell released his first solo album in 1970, he had already played on hundreds of songs as one of the top studio musicians in Los Angeles. Mr. Russell was in Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound Orchestra, and he played sessions for Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, the Ventures and the Monkees, among many others. He is heard on “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds, “A Taste of Honey” by Herb Alpert, “Live With Me” by the Rolling Stones and all of the Beach Boys’ early albums, including “Pet Sounds.”
My favorite performance of his was from the aforementioned Concert for Bangladesh, where he delivered a rollicking version of “Jumping Jack Flash/Youngblood”.
Vaya con Dios, my man.
It seems kind of fitting that this birthday tribute to Roy Wood got his age wrong. While his Move and ELO cohort Jeff Lynne went on to fame and fortune, Wood never caught on similarly, despite the fact that he’s a pop genius.
The Move was one of those groups that should have been a much bigger deal than they ever were, at least in the states. (They had a few big hits in England.) If you never paid attention to them, here’s a clip of a song Cheap Trick covered, “California Man”.
There’s also the heavy, heavy “Brontosaurus”, from 1970.
And one more, from The Move’s last bit before Wood and Lynne went on to start Electric Light Orchestra, from 1971, “Tonight”.
Make sure you check out some of the clips in the linked article, too.
Cleveland in the World Series has gotten “Cleveland Rocks” back into rotation, but that song is actually a remake by Ian Hunter of his 1977 single, “England Rocks” (of which I am the proud possessor of the original 45), which… does.
I dare you to sit still while listening to that. Can’t be done.
Holy crap! I didn’t see this one coming.
St. Louis’ own rock ’n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry turns 90 on Tuesday, but he’s the one who will be giving fans a gift. Berry will release his first new studio album since 1979’s “Rock It.”
Simply titled “Chuck,” the album will be available in 2017 through Dualtone Records. The exact release date hasn’t been determined.
The album will consist mostly of originals…
The Stones and now Chuck. If you’re not dead, make some damned records, right?
If you haven’t heard the news yet, the Rolling Stones are set to release their first studio album in over a decade. Entitled Blue & Lonesome, it’s a set of covers of ’50s and ’60s Chicago blues standards. Here’s the set:
Little Walter Just Your Fool (2:25) – 1960
Howlin’ Wolf Commit A Crime (4:11) – 1966
Little Walter Blue And Lonesome (2:56) – 1959
Magic Sam All Your Love (2:56) – 1967
Little Walter I Got To Go (2:44) – 1955
Little Johnny Taylor Everybody Knows About My Good Thing (Part 1) (3:18) – 1971
Eddie Taylor Ride ‘Em On Down (2:53) – 1955
Little Walter Hate To See You Go (2:19) – 1955
Lightnin’ Slim Hoodoo Blues (4:00) – 1958
Jimmy Reed Little Rain (3:16) – 1957
Howlin’ Wolf Just Like I Treat You (2:57) – 1961
Otis Rush I Can’t Quit You Baby (3:40) – 1956
That is some pretty kickass music. Ron Wood claims the band did little rehearsing before recording the album, but simply picked out the tunes and started playing. That sounds weirdly appropriate.
The album is out on December 2nd. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s the opener.
Not bad for a bunch of 70-year old geezers.