Album Reviews

Leon Russell

Leon Russell, Audio Fidelity Limited Edition

Artist:     Leon Russell

Album:     Leon Russell, Audio Fidelity Limited Edition

Label:     Universal Music/Audio Fidelity

Release Date:     6/11/2017


Songwriter, pianist and guitarist Leon Russell was a vital part of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound studio session band in the late ’60s. He played on hundreds of iconic records from Frank Sinatra to Ronnie Spector to the Beach Boys and everyone in between. In 1971, he released his first record under his own name, simply titled Leon Russell. This album, known as the blue album to Leon’s fans, includes iconic self-penned songs that became hits for others, song like “Song For You,” “Delta Lady” and “Hummingbird,” among other classics.

Audio Fidelity has re-released this record in a special limited edition, remastered, 180 gram pure virgin analogue pressing, and what a treat it is to hear! The tracks are gritty, funky and greasy, reflecting Russell’s musical tastes of rock and roll and gospel, and they especially shine with this new analogue fidelity.

Leon Russell was also known as a great band leader, having led the 17-piece conglomeration that became Mad Dogs and Englishman, backing up Joe Cocker. The band on this disc is incredibly tight and in the pocket on every track.

This release also gives recording information not present on the original LP, such as the fact that all tunes except “Hummingbird,” “Dixie Lullabye,” “Give Peace a Chance” and “Song For You” were recorded in London. Russell gives thanks to Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Charlie Watts, and Stevie Winwood among others. Individual musician credits are not given per track, but I can only imagine that Ringo and the English musicians mentioned are playing on the tracks recorded in London, along with the indispensible Chris Stainton on B-3, who played with Mad Dogs also.

This album was a classic record made by a legendary musician and songwriter when it came out in 1971. It shines even brighter 46 years, later especially pressed on this virgin blue vinyl.

—Dave Keyes

Keyboardist and songwriter Dave Keyes opened for Leon Russell and knows how these songs should sound.

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