Click Here to watch the video of Joe Cocker singing Delta Lady during the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour
Despite the muscle-man pose on the album cover, Joe Cocker was weak and tired when he flew into Los Angeles March 10, 1970. All he wants to do is sleep for a week, and then get up, eat some toast, and decide what to do for the upcoming summer, now that he has let the Grease Band go. The next day his manager flew in from New York to tell him they had negotiated a 56 day tour that included 48 cities and that it started next week. Joe told him that he had no band, and was too tired to do it. He informed Cocker that if he didn't perform, everyone, from the musician’s union to the Immigration Department, would see to it that he never worked in The United States again. Poor Joe was in deep trouble. Leon Russell, hearing about his friend’s plight, came to the rescue and put together a ten piece band and an eleven voice choir, made up of some of the best studio musicians Los Angeles had to offer. Instead of resting, Cocker began 4 days of massive, 12 hour rehearsals and then, got on a chartered airplane to begin the tour. He made it through, though he was hospitalized because of it. His performances are those of a man who has given everything he has to his audience. To this day it is one of the greatest live performance albums of all time.
Wolf was a unique blues man. He drove out of the delta in his own car with the sum of $4,000.00 in his pocket, a small fortune in those days. He was a meticulous bandleader who tolerated no fooling around on his bandstand. He would often tell his players to abstain until the gig was over, at which point he would buy the drinks. In 1970 wolf agreed to go to London along with Hubert Sumlin to gig with some of the young British players like Eric Clapton who literally worshipped at Wolf’s altar. Wolf was older and tired by the time he got to London, but that didn’t stop him from giving Clapton, and friends a lesson in how to do it Chicago style. Howlin’ Wolf-The London Sessions, part of the music that mattered.
Back in the day when vinyl was king , album covers were really important. The art that went into them was the art of the music that mattered. It was created with as much love and attention as the music was. There were many great album designers, Ed Thrasher, Hipgnosis, but to me, the very best was Martin Muller better known as Neon Park.
He was one of the Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa. But long before that he was a studio musician who played on several Frank Sinatra recording sessions, and we all know how meticulous Ol’ Blue Eyes was about his band. Zappa, who was a nurturer of musical talent, encouraged Lowell George and Roy Estrada to form their own group, which they did, calling the new band Little Feat. Lowell wrote songs that were part blues, part rock, part psychedelic and all magic. Putting on an album like Sailin’ Shoes is a trip in itself, songs like “ Willin” are the perfect example of the music that matters. You can hear that song a thousand times and each time you are taken somewhere else along those roads from Tucson to Tucumcari and from Tehachapi to Tonopah.
Some albums you might like from Little Feat: Sailin’ Shoes, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, Dixie Chicken, Waiting for Columbus
This was the album that made Fela Kuti a known musical phenomenon outside Africa. Fela was an outspoken critic of the government and a man beloved by his people. His music was incredible! Nothing less than incredible, the horns and rhythms were hypnotic and the groove he lay down was wide enough for James Brown to perform a u-turn in. Ginger Baker was one of his biggest fans and helped promote him all over the world, playing with the Africa 70 as it was called. The music that mattered was happening all over the world ...and changing the world.
Click Here to watch the video of Ian Anderson/Jack Bruce/Fela Kuti: African Jam Session 1983
She swept out of the Canadian west like the winds that rake the entire continent. Hers was a different sound, like Van Morrison she used words as sounds, and what special words they were. Her music is tactile like her painting. Her need is to feel and isn't that the need of so many of us? Try an album like Blue. But first turn off the phone and lock the door. What you are about to experience is a very personal experience. Very few recordings deserve the title masterpiece, Blue is one of those.
Click Here to watch the video of Joni Mitchell Performing California on 'The Johnny Cash Show'
Considered to be one of the fathers of British blues, John Mayall is unique. Eric Clapton said it best when he said, "John Mayall ran the best school for blues." Take a look at the graduates: Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood formed Fleetwood Mac upon their graduation. Andy Fraser founded Free upon his graduation. Mick Taylor joined the Rolling Stones upon his graduation. An artist whose work has had a profound effect on modern music, he remains a unique musical legend in his own lifetime.
It's one thing to be musically hip, it's totally another to be musically hip for over 50 years. In 2008, Al celebrated 50 years of making music that matters. Al Kooper is a man who has been a successful songwriter, performer, sideman, front man, back-up man, record company man, and respected blues artist. Founder of Blood Sweat and Tears, and Blues Project, he has contributed much to the music that mattered. His incredible organ riff on Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone is just one small example.