I have two favorite cover artists, Joe Cocker and Richie Havens, who both played at Woodstock. I was fortunate to see both perform live in Connecticut concert settings. Each person generated special magic channeling famous songs by well-known musicians they made their own. What I love is the dimensionality and how much more I came to appreciate the original selections.
Joe Cocker crafted Beatles songs among other tracks with his unique phrasing. If I had to name one song that signified Joe Cocker’s Beatles stamp it would be, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, which I saw him do in the Woodstock film. His performance was both commanding and endearing.
Sir Paul McCartney stated he would be “forever grateful” to Cocker for turning With A Little Help From My Friends into a “soul anthem”.
What I love about Richie Havens is the extra breadth and depth he injected in Bob Dylan’s songs. His interpretation brings Dylan’s songs to life in amazing ways. The gem of Haven’s Dylan’s cover selections is “Just Like A Woman”.
My favorite rendition is Richie Haven’s performing at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration Madison Square Garden event. The audience reaction on the refrain echoes how wonderful Richie knew and understood Dylan.
Staying with The Fillmore East blog post theme as it relates to historic concerts, the focus now shifts to events that took place on March 27 and March 28 1970. This is the point in music history when the Joe Cocker & The Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour, complete with 40+ family members and a video/audio production crew took over The Fillmore East to record for posterity their unique travelling circus and medicine show experience. This rag-tag nucleus of talented potpourri made a significant contribution to the annals of live rock music with its synthesis of blues, country and soul music.
The four concerts held at 8 and 11 p.m. respectively, produced a rich treasure trove of musical heritage. There is a full length feature film on DVD that exhibits the various stops on the tour as well as the backstage sounds and scenes.
In addition to a double album of the Fillmore East shows, there is also a rarities CD. Rhino’s Hip-O label has also produced the definitive 6 CD set of all four Fillmore East recordings as a limited edition pressing of 2500 units, which is sold out but available on Amazon through authorized sellers. Hip-O also produced a 3 CD set of each evening as a limited edition of 5000 units which are still available for purchase on the Hip-O Web site.
It’s equally fascinating that this tour not only launched the greater success of Joe Cocker but also promoted the careers of Leon Russell as producer/arranger, Rita Coolidge singer, Chris Stainton on keyboards, Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns (who went on to play with the Rolling Stones), Carl Radle on bass and Jim Gordon on drums (went on to play in Derek and the Dominoes). As Leon Russell sings in “The Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen”…
Kids, planes, runway strikes Flashy pimps and family fights Spotted dogs, blood-shot eyes Our space captain laughs and tries To understand the scheme of things
But just in time the scene has changed The bus is here, bring the beer Sherman’s reading Shakespeare Movie makers, boobie shakers And Saxy airplane ticket takers
Union members Leo Fender’s pride and joy Electric toy Teachers, learners Incense burners Religious leaders and chronic bleeders Thieves and pirates on a ride It’s a hippie commune bonafied
But Okies and Limeys, curtain climbers Stones and future Dominoes Know which way the wind blows Stolen cola no one knows The shadow do But it’s still a shady crew
‘Cause I love her, and she loves me Just myself and forty friends In the name of Cocker Power Out here on the road again With Mad Dogs and Englishmen