I bought this on the strength of Chuck Leavell's sterling work backing Clapton & the Stones, but I was rather disappointed by it. Fine piano playing, of course, but after a few plays I passed the CD on. Not bad, but nothing outstanding
It's also far too long - distilling it into one CD would be a great improvement.
on 2 June 2009
Chuck Leavell is the world's greatest pianist and don't let anyone tell you any different. Forget your Jools Hollands, your Bill Paynes, your Pigpens and your Bobby Crushes. Chuck's number one.
I have two Chuck albums in my collection: Forever Blue and Live in Germany: Green Leaves & Blue Notes Tour. This review appears against them both and is there to point out to you the differences between them.
First, I found Forever Blue a little dull to be honest. There are no vocals (which I expected to be the case) but the music's all a bit bland. More classical than rocking, rolling and honky tonking. I was a little disappointed, but still rate it as three stars.
But then a year or two later I found Live in Germany: Green Leaves & Blue Notes Tour. This is a double cd. It has Chuck performing vocals and not embarassing himself. But more importantly, it rocks. There are a couple of Allman Brothers tracks (including Jessica, theme to Top Gear), three Stones tracks and classics like Route 66, Alberta Alberta (from Clapton Unplugged) and Here Comes The Sun. Even the live versions of tracks from Forever Blue have a better feel to them. This album shows off Chuck's skills brilliantly. Five stars.
Chuck has been around for a few years and has guested on all sorts of other albums too, so I feel I should point out some other great places to find him. Let me think, there's:
- Unplugged by Eric Clapton where his piano playing makes you wonder whether there really is only one god (with a little g - please don't all rate me unhelpful, churchlovers)
- Brothers and Sisters by the Allman Brothers - a classic in the countryish Dickey-Betts-is-our-only-guitarist phase, speaking of which....
- Highway Call by Dickey Betts. More great piano playing on an album that's a bit more bluegrassy than the Allmans
- Live With A Little Help From Our Friends by Gov't Mule. More hard rocking, this one, and with the legendary Derek Trucks guesting as well as Chuck. Go for the 4 disc version.
- Shake Your Money Maker by The Black Crowes. A strange mix of Stones, Faces, AC/DC, Led Zep influences, with Chuck in the background.
- If you want more, there's Searchin' For A Rainbow by The Marshall Tucker Band, Storm Warning by Tinsley Ellis and most Stones albums since the 1980s, but I thought I'd point you towards the best stuff first.