I was out at dinner tonight with my wife’s family. The conversation soon turned to Leonard Cohen’s passing. My sister in law mentioned there was another guy in music that just died. Leon Russell I said. They all asked “Who was that?” I explained he was a solo musician that wrote a lot of songs for others and that he performed with George Harrison, Delaney and Bonnie, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, and Joe Cocker. Such a shame that a man so talented was known by few even though his songs were loved by many. Since I had been invited by Bruce from Vinyl Connection into the Film (Soundtrack) Festival I figured this 2 LP, live soundtrack album would be perfect to salute not only Leon Russell, but also Joe Cocker, and in a small way, Leonard Cohen. RIP to all of these amazing men.
The tour and recording for this movie and album are really amazing. On March 13, 1970 Leon Russell offered to tour with Joe Cocker. Leon gathered up 36 people including musicians, roadies, etc. Within 2 weeks they had rehearsed a handful of times, then on March 27 and 28 at Fillmore East in New York they recorded this album. In my opinion, one of the best albums put together basically by strangers that were not used to performing with each other. In 2 weeks. Amazing.
Honky Tonk Women – Wow. Leon Russell can wail on that geetar, Joe sounds pretty damn good doing a Stones song, and the background choir singers (including Rita Coolidge) are amazing.
Sticks And Stones – Almost gospel meets the blues.
Cry Me A River – A kind of honky tonk piano begins this song off. Gospel choir fills out the middle and amazing organ work finishes it off.
Bird On The Wire – Many people feel any Leonard Cohen original can not be improved upon. However, Joe gives it a good go here.
Feelin’ Alright – The Traffic song written by Dave Mason is best known as a Joe Cocker song. Leon Russell does an amazing job on guitar here.
Superstar – Mary Kathy Gallagher would definitely approve of this song. Rita Coolidge mixes thing up here with a nice ballad. Leon Russell plays subtle but sweet licks.
Let’s Go Get Stoned – The Coasters song gets rockified/bluesified/gospelized here. Leon Russell sounds amazing here (this is becoming a trend). Bobby Keys does a nice job on the sax as well.
(The next three songs all flow into one another in what is called Blue Medley)
I’ll Drown In My Own Tears – The Henry Glover song that was most famously performed by Ray Charles. The drums, horns, bass and organ are the stars here.
When Something Is Wrong With My Baby – Bobby Jones helps Joe out on vocals here.
I’ve Been Loving You Too Long – Great drums, organ work and the choir is angelic.
Girl From The North Country – During the introduction to this song, Leon Russell gives a shout out to Bob Dylan who was in attendance. Leon and Joe trade off vocals on this amazing version.
Give Peace A Chance – Not the John Lennon song, this is the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett song. Give peace a chance and a whole lot of rock n roll. That sounds good to me.
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window – The Beatles song may be another one that is more famous as a Joe Cocker song.
Space Captain – A really epic sounding live performance here. Amazing guitar, keys, drums and choir.
The Letter – Another fine version of an amazing song. Incidentally another song that most people know as a Joe Cocker song. It was written by country artist Wayne Carson Thompson, who died in 2015. RIP.
Delta Lady – The album closes with this Leon Russell penned song.
I am not sure why this song never made it onto the soundtrack, but here is the video for it anyway.
RIP Master Of Space And Time. You will be missed.