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JJ Cale & Leon Russell at The Paradise Studios, Los Angeles, 1979

Leon Russell was a straight-out genius. He was a gifted songwriter, a member of The Wrecking Crew, the musical director of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and simply seemed to be present on most big pop and rock music projects and events for a period in the 1970s. Leon Russell and the Shelter People (click here or on the image for Amazon or here for iTunes) is just a fabulous record. His version of Dylan’s “It’s a Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” is one of the best covers ever. “Home Sweet Oklahoma” is just great as well.
Here are two absolute greats: pianist Leon Russell and guitarist J.J. Cale. Cale is one of Eric Clapton’s favorite guitarists and has a big fan in Neil Young. Cale, whose style was called the Tulsa sound, is my estimation is the easiest guitarist to listen to.

Here is the set list, courtesy of austinpickers, who posted the clip on YouTube. The set was recorded The Paradise Studios in Los Angeles in 1979:

1. T-Bone Shuffle
2. Nowhere To Run
3. Cocaine
4. Ten Easy Lessons
5. Sensitive Kind
6. Hands Off Her
7. Lou-Easy-Ann
8. Going Down
9. Corine Corina
10. Roll On
11. No Sweat
12. Crazy Mama
13. Fate Of A Fool
14. Boiling Pot
15. After Midnight
16. T-Bone Shuffle
17 .T-Bone Backwards
18. Same Ole Blues
19. Don’t Cry Sister
20. Set Your Soul Free (Tell Me Who You Are)
21. 24 Hours A Day

The other players in the session are Christine Lakeland — a longtime Cale musician — Larry Bell (on guitar, I believe), Marty Green, Nick Rather, Jimmy Karstein, Bill Boatman and Ambrose Campbell. I am sorry that I don’t know who plays what instrument. Please fill me in in the coment.

Here is more on Russell and a tremendous clip from a movie about The Wrecking Crew.

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

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