Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Leon Russell - 1974 - Live In Japan

Leon Russell 
Live In Japan

01. Heaven 4:57
02. Over The Rainbow / God Put A Rainbow 5:39
03. Queen Of The Roller Derber 1:49
04. Roll Away The Stone 4:04
05. Tight Rope 2:59
06. Sweet Emily 3:24
07. Alcatraz 4:05
08. You Don't Have To Go 2:35
09. A Song For You / Of Thee I Sing / Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms 7:10

Recorded live in concert at the Budokan Hall, Tokyo on November 8, 1973.

Delrose Allen Vocals (Background)
Chuck Blackwell Drums
Ambrose Campbell Congas
Carolyn Cook Vocals (Background)
Joey Cooper Guitar, Vocals (Background)
Nettie Davenport Vocals (Background)
Charlene Foster Vocals (Background)
John Gallie Organ
Rev. Patrick Henderson Piano, Vocals
Carl Radle Bass
Leon Russell Composer, Piano, Primary Artist, Quotation Author, Vocals

For me, personally, over the past four decades (maybe longer), I have found that there's a certain chemical reaction I get, a feeling that emerges in me, whenever I hear the music of the Rolling Stones. I could be feeling really low on some particular day, so far down I could "parachute off a dime"--but then I put some Stones on, or just happen to hear a certain song of theirs come on the radio...And suddenly, like magic, everything changes.

My mood immediately lightens up by leaps and bounds, my mental outlook improves immeasurably; inexplicably, I get a lift, like I'm literally being raised off of the ground. This always happens, and I've never known why. Never did, and I still don't. But there is something about Rolling Stones music that energizes me in such a positive way that I can never do without it for very long.

And now, in more recent times (even though I've been listening to this man's music for almost as long), I've come to realize that the music of Leon Russell has very much the same kind of effect on me. Not that Leon's voice is at all similar to Mick's, although they both do a mean version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" as well as lovely renditions of "Wild Horses." Whatever it is, I love Stones music, and I love Leon's music, and I'm also grateful that these guys are still out their doing what they've always done so well.

The year 2010 was a great one for Leon and for Leon Russell fans, after his perfect "Union" with Elton. What a great album! And what a great shot in the arm for Leon's career. Many of his old fans from the early '70s probably didn't even know for sure that the man was still around.

Well, he is (even going out on the road as Bob Dylan's touring partner in Summer 2011), and all the more reason to celebrate and enjoy one of the first releases from the L.A.-based Omnivore label, a 1973 live Leon recording made in Japan, and released on vinyl back then, but only in that country. This is the first time since 1974 that this concert recording has been made available anywhere else, in any other format.

Before Dylan, Cheap Trick or any other artist made their "Budokan" albums, Leon made one, and this is it. Naturally, if you are a Leon Russell fan, you have to have this. You'll want it for the music, of course. But if you opt for the CD version, you also get a wonderful 20-page color booklet with extensive credits, great photos and two complete essays about that overseas tour, and about that early '70s era, when Leon was a "Superstar." (For a great many of us, he never stopped being one.)

One essay is by Steve Todoroff, an expert on Leon's career who has authored a book about the recordings of Leon Russell. The other essay is by the Reverend Patrick Henderson, who was a member of Leon's band back then. The album opens with Rev. Patrick and the backup singers he brought in (Black Grass) featured on a couple of numbers, before Leon's full impact kicks in.

Check the track list and you'll see that there are numbers here (some of the blues songs in the medleys, as well as "Blues Power," the one Leon worked up with Eric Clapton) that you'll not find elsewhere. On the 1971 Houston material (which was several months prior to Leon's appearance at The Concert for Bangladesh) he had Kathi McDonald and Claudia Lennear as his background singers, and "Jack Flash" was already in the show.

Both the 1971 and 1973 shows are great--put them in your rotation of Leon concert recordings. How about (as soundtrack to a long afternoon into evening barbecue or pool party), a chronological playing of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, followed by Houston '71 (tracks 10 through 16), followed by Concert For Bangladesh, followed by Leon Live (Long Beach '72), capped off by Live in Japan (tracks 1 through 9)?

Can a Leon Russell fan ever really get enough of Leon playing Live?