Album review: JIMMY PAGE & FRIENDS – Tribute To Alexis Korner

JIMMY PAGE & FRIENDS - Tribute To Alexis Korner

The Store For Music (released 6.12.19)

Dubbed “The Godfather of British Blues”, Alexis Korner died, aged 55, on the first day of the year, 1984. His influence was felt by many. Without him, Fifties rock’n'roll in the UK would not have blossomed into the mega successful bluesrock of The Rolling Stones, Free and Led Zepellin, the genre’s ultimate, world straddling giants.

No surprise then that this tribute concert (to raise funds for Cancer Research), initiated by Jimmy Page in June that same year, was supported on the Nottingham Palais stage by Paul (Manfred Mann) Jones, Charlie (Stones) Watts, Ian (Stones) Stewart and Jack (Cream) Bruce. And they all play their hearts out. Two hours later, the emotion in the hall is palpable. Yes, it’s tinged with sadness, but the overriding sentiment is one of celebration. Of a life lived to the full and of a man who gave so much to us all.

So, refreshingly, no grandstanding, no musician trying to sell his wares.

The gig, naturally, is influenced and informed by the past. All of these musicians are passionate advocates of the loose, expressive form of guitar based music popularised by Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Reed and the grandaddy of them all, Robert Johnson. And so, on a night lit up by these artists’ signature songs, the air is filled with the redemptive swell of Hammond organ, the sweet soothing trill of backing vocalists (Ruby Turner front and centre), the snap of snare drums, rootsy guitar breaks and beautifully timed jabs of well-drilled brass. An object lesson in how to do it and get it right.

The recording has been bootlegged several times over the years, and never officially released until now. Someone clearly has done sterling work on the original tapes. It’s good quality sound with only the occasional imperfection. But of course, it’s live, and that’s all part of the deal.

Review by Brian McGowan


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