Sunday, September 5, 2010

JDIZZY's 365 # 117: The Ballad Of Mad Dogs & Englishmen

The Ballad Of Mad Dog's & Englishmen - Leon Russell (1971)

Concert films have been one of my favorite cinematic creations, from the early days of The T.A.M.I. Show, through the mastering of the craft with Woodstock, on down to U2 3D. Along the way, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen has always stood out as one of the pivotal pieces in the genre. Touring the US with a rag-tag group of musicians, Cocker pulls off some of the most impressive live performances ever captured on celluloid, giving off the vibe of a traveling tent show, all lead by musical director Leon Russell. My favorite moment in the film however, is the closing credits. As the words scroll the screen, a piano ballad drifts into the viewer's ears, with Leon Russel's piano and voice leading the way through thick strings. It is that song that we praise today, a perfect summation of what has come before, and a masterclass in songwriting from a legend that is too often looked over (The man wrote Superstar, for Pete's sake!) Hopefully, that will change this year with the release of a Leon/Elton duets album, which I am beyond excited about!

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