Bands like Journey and Styx may have hijacked the 70’s nostalgia movement, but it’s musicians like Leon Russell that prove that decade was a lot more than tight jeans, poufy hair and neutered arena rock, dripping with saccharin.
Lyrically Russell’s right up there with Bob Dylan and Neil Young with a voice just as distinctive as… well Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The 16 track Best of Leon Russell collection from Capitol is perfect for those unaware of Russell or those who simply need to be reminded of just how important an influence he was and remains. Tracks like “Song For You” and “Tight Rope” still sound just as fresh as when they first hit the charts.
Russell ‘s stepped out of the shadows a bit recently having put out an album with Elton John last year, a recent appearance (again with Elton) on Saturday Night Live last month… oh and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year (Tom Waits and Neil Young used up all the media’s ink, so you may have missed the fact that Russell and Dr. John also earned their spots, as well).
Looking a bit like grumpy biker Santa with shoulder length white hair, a ZZ Top-worthy white beard and a permanent “don’t fuck with me” look in his eyes, Russell still manages to pack clubs across the country.
So the kids on Glee may never cover “Tight Rope,” with all the cheer smile enthusiasm they pour into Journey hits like “Don’t Stop Believing,” I think that Russell still gets the better end of that deal.
Top tracks: “Tight Rope” and “It’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
Leon Russell – The Best of Leon Russell/16 Tracks/2011/Capitol