Monday, November 10, 2014

Los Angeles, December, 1970, when Leon Russell was king of the world

It says this is from 1971, but I actually think it was recorded in December 1970 at KCET in Los Angeles as part of what's known as the Homewood Sessions. They say it was the first live stereo FM broadcast. Not sure how true that is but what's certain is this captures the Leon Russell caravan at their very best, including such key walk-ons as Don Nix, Claudia Linnear and Furry Lewis (of whom Joni Mitchell wrote "Furry Sings The Blues").

I find his solo albums a bit strained but at the time this was taped he was a brilliant producer/svengali. This was around the time he produced Freddie King's brilliant "Going Down". The woman with the rolling pin is Emily Smith who was part of Russell's retinue and the inspiration for his song "Sweet Emily". In this clip the sound and pictures are out of sync but I don't think that changes the remarkable fact that they could play this well live and these days you'd probably get arrested for having this much fun on camera.


  1. Wonderful. So infectious, the fun and joy pours out of the screen. Every time I see or hear something like this, it seems so loose, unscripted and unsell-conscious it makes me realise how the opposite is true of most of what we consume now - planned, organised, self-conscious and calculated - an so much duller for it. Whoever the woman dancing all the way through is, she captures it magnificently.

  2. ...or shy Leon as he used to be known - he's in there somewhere, calling the shots. A joyous performance. But it reminds me I never did get a copy of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, or watch the film properly ...

    Life is in danger of being too short. So who can blame Carly Simon? [article opposite]. She didn't have it all her own way. Wikipedia reminds us of Rita Coolidge, Leon's Delta Lady, once married to Kris Kristofferson, and who previously had romantic liaisons with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash; her leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. She was also involved with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker during their Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour.

  3. It can be done David. May be my inbuilt Springsteen love but this on Jimmy Kimmel in 2012 captures the sheer joy of a great live performance...


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