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William C. Altreuter
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Friday, July 23, 2004

It's hard to know what to make of Leon Russell. On the strength of his medley on "The Concert for Bangladesh " a lot of people went out and bought Leon Russell albums; none of those people that I know were pleased with their purchases. On the other hand, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" is pretty terrific, and there are certainly a number of good Leon Russell songs..... So to Thursday in the Square last night to see what he's been up to for the last twenty years.

And the answer is, I guess, that Leon Russell does what he has always done, slurring his way through a Southern fried Memphis sound that blends soul, gospel and the blues into a rock'n'nroll that works pretty good. I left before he got into the ballads, but there was no denying that what I saw swung along nicely. Not surprisingly, the band was tight and professional. Somewhat surprisingly the whole show was rather static: Leon sat erect at the keyboards and moaned away, bringing the boogie. for what ever reason, he never really takes off. He starts off with a pretty good groove, but the momentum never catches on. The songs kick in, he bounces along with them for a bit, then they wind down, or don't wind down and just come to a stop, then he starts in again. They never really stretched out, which would have been interensting, maybe, and there were times when the whole thing had a pretty perfuntory feel. Glad I saw him play, but I am still left wondering just what it was that made him catch fire like that with George and the others on "Youngblood/Jumping Jack Flash".

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