Written By Braddon S. Williams
Leon Russell: Leon Live
I have always had a soft spot in my musical taste for exceptional keyboard players. This is undoubtedly due to my father’s influence. My dad was a maestro level pianist, so when I first heard Leon Russell, the combination of his distinctive vocal style and his solid piano chops made him a natural for me. Leon Live, Russell’s 1973 concert recording, was a fantastic collection of material that covered a wide range of the man’s genre jumping ability.
Rock, blues, gospel, r&b, soul, country…Leon Russell could do it all, and do it convincingly. He had organized Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour and band, and that great work led to Russell carrying on the musical smorgasbord that became Leon Live.
It doesn’t take long to hear the easy rapport Russell had with his band and his audience. His show was like a rock ‘n roll revival, and it had to have been a blast to be present when this album was recorded.
The fun just jumps out of the grooves, and the songs are presented in medleys and in drawn out jams with plenty of soulful choruses and bouncing rhythm pervasive throughout. Leon Russell was effortlessly cool and although I never saw him live, I can listen to Leon Live, close my eyes and feel a fraction of what must have been an outstanding exchange of energy between performer and audience.