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Leroy Hutson and Me.

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I hadn't planned to write about Leroy's latest UK show so apologies for no photos, but check out my review of his dec gig at Camden Jazz Café on Bebop Spoken Here. At the time the editor asked me about nominating him for the Jazz FM award for top Soul Act and, not having initially put him forward, I agreed and he secured a nomination. Maybe down to us, maybe not.

I'd waited almost thirty years, through two cancellations, for a proper Leroy gig and I told my editor afterwards that he'd be back, but hadn't expected it to be so soon. Nevertheless, the contrast between the two venues meant I didn't dare miss it.

It was the same British band who again opened with Cool Out, but this time continued with another instrumental I can't identify without checking. He arrived on stage to Lovers Holiday which had done me in at the Caff, but the horns weren't quite on it tonight. It's Different (if I remember correctly) was followed by All Because of You, which finished me off in dec. I can still remember the first time I heard the album version - and I liked the seven - at a club in London, courtesy Scottish jock Tom Jackson, but tonight it seemed a bit messy, unable to decide whether it was the single or album version. Incidentally, the most I ever paid for a vinyls was £56 for Hutson in the early nineties (not long (enough) before it came out on a twelve with Lucky Fellow), though I've paid more for CDs.

Having been a massive Curtis fan from the mid seventies, it's inexplicable that I didn't get into Leroy, but the albums, each having one or two extraordinary tracks, aren't great in the sense of being good from start to finish, so I let them pass me by before Modern Soul.

By my reckoning there are seven tracks which are up with the greatest music ever, about the same again slightly behind, quite a few which are perfectly good, and a few stinkers. In dec he played four out of the seven and I'd hoped he'd add at least another tonight. Sadly, while he added Love the Feeling, complete with band run-through and a brief audience participation he conceded he wouldn't have joined in with, he omitted Think I'm Falling in Love which he'd played in dec. Once again his female backing singer took Cashing In and Trying to get Next to You, he wrote for Voices of East Harlem and Arnold Blair respectively, and he finished with Lucky Fellow, proving the high-spot of the night (as it was at Southport all those years ago), and the encore was a new single which actually sounded pretty good.

In his early seventies, he looks and sounds terrific, my junior jazz genius firstborn observing he sounds better than on record., but these days artists are commonly told which ones to play. Chatting with the chap running the merch store, I claimed that the Modern scene had broken him (with Colin Curtis the main player) but his perspective was that it was the rare groove scene, and giving it consideration, I think it was both. Over-simplification alert, but rare groove comes more from a funk thing, which doesn't necessarily do justice to Leroy. Nevertheless, I'm sure Get to This must have had spins in London and the South, and Love oh Love, having featured on Curtis in Chicago, must have been heard by more people than any other track he's ever recorded.

The chap told me Leroy's back at the Caff this dec and I considered introducing myself to him as one of the people instrumental in bringing him over the first time, and slipping him a note with those two tracks written on it, together with his own achingly beautiful version of Heaven Right Here on Earth he wrote for the Natural Four. Instead I just said hello and introduced him to my Curtom T shirt many had admired. I hope, by writing this, it may get to him and he'll work out the best possible set from his illustrious, though relatively sparse, back catalogue.

I'm sure the gig was great and many said it was, but for me it was up against the history and emotion of seven months earlier. On this occasion I was upstairs and some venues generate greater atmosphere downstairs (ie Newcastle City Hall), but I've been to the Barbican many times, and seen great concerts from both, so this may or may not have been a factor.

It remains to be seen whether I make it this dec. My long-suffering, hard-up Soul and Real Music widow will no doubt have something to say about it (though she loves him and was there last dec). But I was in London the previous weekend for Angie Stone and the P Funk mob, in the spring for the Jazz FM Awards, I'm back in aug for reggae legend Johnny Osbourne and in nov for jazz/ fusion bass king Stanley Clarke at least.

I'm at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival on sunday for Zakir Hussain, Dave Holland and Chris Potter (google each of them) who I missed in London last year because I was in Chicago for jazz/ rock/ fusion maestro John McLaughlin's farewell tour. Plus I was at the Cheltenham Jazz festival for lots of people including Tower of Power and Kamasi Washington.

This apart from all the gigs I go to in the North East every week: mostly Soul, Jazz, Blues, Rock and (proper) Rock, but also Asian Music, African Music, Classical Music, hip-hop, folk, country and western and even the occasional popstars. And of course my eldest son's quartet are touring the North East and Cumbria through the summer.

Not bad for someone blinkered because I don't like or believe stories about a pop group who - give or take your take on other religions - are more over-rated than anything else in the history of mankind, or twenty seconds of pop music from the mid/ late seventies which makes up another of the holy trinity of biggest lies in modern music journalism - the third is that music lovers prefer vinyls; vinyls lovers prefer vinyls.

Trust the self proclaimed wordsmiths are managing to keep up.

Last Friday I was in Darlo for a real live Chicago Bluesman. He asked the audience whether we wanted him to keep on playing the blues or a Stones cover he's recorded, presumably to take something back and make some money, To my horror, lots of people wanted the Stones and only I wanted blues, even though there'll have been cover bands in pubs in Darlo that night playing stuff by bands like the Stones.

Last year Leroy sold out two nights at the Jazz Caff right after Christmas and before New Year. This year there'll no doubt be covers bands in pubs in Camden the same night playing a selection of pop records by bands who like to tell the media how rebellious they are, like the Beatles, Stones and punk-rock groups. Anyone who can't decide should probably save the entrance fee to the Caff.



Edited by stevesilktulip

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Wow.....thats some dialogue. 

So in 1979 I bought:


10 pence demo, as a punt...

Never heard it at a Northern night, but its close to what was being played.

So he wrote cashing in?

Good luck with your quest.



Edited by tomangoes

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It occurs to me, I wonder whether I would have been accused of being blinkered if I'd said I don't like the Beegees, Wham or Simply Red; glam-rock, new romantics or boy/girl bands; graphites or eight tracks. We know from the media that the Beatles, punk-rock and vinyls are diferrent, and as Soul Fans we know that everything the media says is 'the truth'. Fraid from where I'm standing they're all the same, except that the Gibb brothers were better/ more mature songwriters than Lemon and McCartney, punk-rock was the worst of all pop music fads, and for real surface noise it has to be graphites rather than the lightweight crap, kackle and plop of vinyls.

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