Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Leon Russell - 1974 - Stop All That Jazz

Leon Russell 
Stop All That Jazz

01. If I were A Carpenter 3:50
02. Smashed 2:17
03. Leaving Whipporwhill 4:04
04. Spanish Harlem 4:33
05. Streaker's Ball 2:15
06. Working Girl 3:11
07. Time For Love 3:40
08. The Ballad Of Hollis Brown 3:54
09. Mona Lisa Please 3:28
10. Stop All That Jazz 3:59

Leon Russell Banjo, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Piano (Electric), Synthesizer, Vocals

Ann Bell Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Henry Best Bass
Chuck Blackwell Drums
John Cale Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Chris Clayton Horn, Vocals (Background)
Joey Cooper Guitar, Vocals
Pete Drake Guitar (Steel)
Linda Hargrove Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic)
Karl Himmel Drums
Jim Keltner Bass, Drums
William Kenner Mandolin
Marcy Levy Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Tommy Lokey Horn, Vocals (Background)
Willie Nelson Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals
Jamie Oldaker Drums
Don Preston Dobro, Guitar, Vocals
Carl Radle Bass
Edwin Scruggs Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic)
Lena Stephens Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Odell Stokes Guitar
Pam Thompson Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Cam Wilson Organ, Percussion, Vocals (Background)
Charlie Wilson Keyboards, Vocals
Ric Wilson Bass
Robert Sinclair Wilson Bass, Drums
Ronald Wilson Horn, Vocals (Background)

What is it about 1974 anyway?  I’m not saying there was no great music made that year, but somehow, so many of my favorite artists, people who released classic albums in ’72 and ’73, came out with stuff in ’74 that was… a little flat, a little tired and uninspired.  This is not a bad album, but if I were assembling a “best of Leon Russell” compilation, I’m not sure any of these songs would make it.  Side A starts with a rather goofy cover of “If I Were a Carpenter”, which is fun but seems ill-suited to the material.  The album’s jazz theme emerges on the next track, Mose Allison’s “Smashed”; Allison’s stuff is a natural for Russell.  This is followed by “Leaving Whippoorwill”, a song with the trademark Russell sound, set to a loping beat somewhat similar to the Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” or Elton John’s “Son of Your Father”.  Next comes a rather languid instrumental cover of “Spanish Harlem” with a sort of jazzy mood-music feel kind of like Ramsey Lewis, and the side ends with “Streaker’s Ball”, which has a minor-keyed Tin Pan Alley-ish sound reminiscent of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” or “Istanbul Not Constantinople”, but is for some reason drenched with gratuitous analog-synthesizer bloops.  The first track on Side B, “Working Girl”, is along the same general lines as “Leaving Whippoorwill” but gets a bit more of a punchy New Orleans treatment.  The next track, “Time for Love”, finds Russell trying his hand at AOR balladry, with unremarkable results.  This is followed by “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”, certainly the album’s most distinctive track; the harrowing lyrics are set to a driving, automated-sounding rhythm, with raw-edged gospel backing vocals that actually sound a little like the cries of the damned… it’s quite powerful and jarringly out of sync with its surroundings, particularly the next track, “Mona Lisa Please”, which is very lightweight cocktail jazz.  The album then ends with the title track, on which Russell seems to playfully repudiate the jazzy material that came before; it’s the story of a guy whose girlfriend likes Miles Davis and Stan Kenton and won’t listen to him sing his blues.  It begins with a trite-sounding cool-jazz riff which does sound a lot like some early Davis “heads”; the riff muscles its way in again to end the song, with Russell screaming in agony underneath.

1 comment:

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