Sad Leon Russell died yesterday. He was part of my teenage dream. He was the charismatic guy with hat and so long hair behind his piano, captain of the Mad Dog & Englishman ship. His solo career was not always my taste but between 1970 and 1973 he was a scenic phenomenon, all in revival gospel excess. Here the ultimate testimony of this era with this 3 LP live set entitled Leon live recorded at the Long Beach Arena ion the 28 August 1972. More details below. Catch it here.
Some days ago, Leon Russell was inducted to the Hall of Fame by Elton John (whatever this sentence may mean since I'm not sure I know exactly what the hell it's about to induct someone to the Hall of Fame). A good opportunity to say here how, with Dr John and Al Kooper, this charismatic man was underrated over his career. Of course, it's his role next to Joe Cocker that gave him this special aura he's associated to, this so special look that I found so "rock 'n' roll" when I was 12 when actually it was not rock 'n' roll but gospel rock. In studio, Leon Russell never reached the intensity of his live sets (and actually was surely the less talented of the 3 for studio work). But on stage, he was able to put the room on fire only with his strange donald duck voice and his piano-à-là Jerry Lee Lewis. In this live 3 LP album, he closed his fame period, since then he'll try to touch to a wider variety of genres without the success he met with gospel rock. If the band is not as shaky as was the one playing on Mad Dogs and Englishmen, there is enough groove and excitation to make it a classic that I surprise myself to listen to very often, particularily when I don't know what to listen to and I'm not in a doom mood. Sometimes, Leon's band sounds as Mott the Hoople (pre-Bowie era). If there are many self-indulgent passages, there's enough here to make you dance all around the place in screaming the choruses with the choir. So c'mon for celebrating the old Leon, when he (and we) was young and crazy.