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Leon Russell~ Retrospective


Lucky
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Leon Russell. The name alone says it all. Many people think that they don't really know this artist's music. In actuality, there is a good chance that they are wrong. This talented artist has written and produced, and contributed on songs and albums for a multitude of artists, of every genre. He's been involved as a session player for such artists as Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Spector, and the Rolling Stones. He collaborated with George Harrison on Badfinger's album "Straight Up", providing the complement to Harrison's slide guitar on "Day After Day". His participation in Harrison's "Concert for Bangladesh" resulted in the memorable medly "Jumpin' Jack Flash/Youngblood". Besides his own hits, his songs have been covered by such artists as The Carpenters, BB King, Mott the Hoople, and Joe Cocker.

Now, what has this to do with an album review? Just that this 1997 release encompasses all that talent into one Retrospective album. Russell is first and foremost a piano player, and that is demonstrated on this album. While he's primarily a rock n' roller, you hear the country, gospel, blues and cajun influences that make up the total of this man's sound. Some of these songs are heavy on the production, featuring background singers, orchestration, and sound effects (Out in the Woods has some wonderful jungle sounds, and Back to the Island has sound effects that absolutely transport you). Other songs are simply Leon, the piano, and a guitar.

You hear his hit song "Tightrope", the original version of "This Masquerade", which won a Grammy for George Benson, "Hummingbird", most notably recorded by BB King, and "Roll Away the Stone", a well known recording by Mott the Hoople. There are a couple of obvious omissions here, such as "Streakers Ball", and the inclusion of a shorter live version of "Queen of the Roller Derby", which sounds like something the Stones would've recorded. His take on Dylan's "A Hard Rains Gonna Fall" is extraordinary. While personally I like his release of "Carney" in 1972 (which hit #2 that year), or even the out of print "Best of Leon" this Retrospective is a good way to dip a toe into the talent pool of Leon Russell.

Leon Russell ~ Retrospective

Tracks:

1. A Song For You

2. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

3. The Ballad Of Mad Dogs And Englishmen

4. Delta Lady

5. Roll Away The Stone

6. Tight Rope

7. Out In The Woods

8. Shootout On The Plantation

9. Stranger In A Strange Land

10. Hummingbird

11. Lady Blue

12. This Masquerade

13. Back To The Island

14. Magic Mirror

15. Crystal Closet Queen

16. Bluebird

17. Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms

18. Queen Of The Roller Derby

I realize that this album is not a new release, many of you may have heard it. However this man's talent is greatly overlooked and I'd like for people to become more aquainted with it.

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