Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leon Russell
"Leon Russell & the Shelter People"

After reading about Mr. Russell for a little bit, it occurs to me that he may have had the kind of career that I most respect.
Beginning his music-making playing in clubs, working as a session musician (both piano and guitar) for Phil Spector and getting to record with everyone from Sinatra to the Stones. Then, stepping into the producer's chair, has Joe Cocker take one of his songs to #11 on the Billboard (and then tour internationally in support of the album.) Next, release a couple of albums of your own music, be cited by Elton John as one of his most influential musicians and record with Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Bob Dylan.

I think it could be safe to say that Leon Russell is a musician's musician.

His music on this record, steeped in honkey tonk piano, is genuinely good. Perhaps some of these songs are blatant rip-offs of other hits ("Sweet Home Alabama/Home Sweet Oklahoma") but you can't deny Russell's instincts and sensitivity when it comes to what sounds good.

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