7.Dont Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King of RocknRoll
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Unlike rock stars, blues singers just improve with age. Exhibit one: Long John Baldry 30 years after he first took to the stage, thrilling an appreciative Midwestern crowd at Iowa State University. The decades have barely worn his voice, roughening it at the edges a bit, but remaining as big, booming, and emotive as ever. Backed by a phenomenal band, and a versatile one at that, and accompanied by the fabulous Kathi McDonald, who seems to simultaneously channel Etta James and Janis Joplin, this was an unforgettable night, one of many in Baldry's career. LIVE IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY 1987 begins in relaxed, porch-pickin' blues style with "Going Down Slow," with the heat gently rising until the song begins to simmer and steam, a gumbo of a number, where all the bandmembers are given the opportunity to showcase their silky skills. "Every Day I Have the Blues" is done in brash boogie style, and Baldry enjoys every second of the song. From R&B to reggae is no leap at all, and "It Ain't Easy" bends easily to the latter style, a gentle reminder that reggae itself grew out of R&B. McDonald joins Baldry on that number, and then takes over the mike for a storming cover of "Respect" and an incredibly powerful take on "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman;" stunning performances both. Baldry returns to accompany her on a calypso-fied cover of "Iko Iko" that's so fun, you can actually hear his eyes twinkling with delight. The jazzy arpeggios that follow give no warning as to the set's finale, a barrelling "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock'n'Roll," which morphs in and out in a '60s Stax-style. It's the perfect curtain closer for a superb show where everyone on the stage that night shined brighter than the North Star.