Saturday, October 27, 2012

Les Paul & Friends - American Made World Played






Will they drop by for my birthday?

No. This can only happen to you if you are a guitar God. 

What else can you call Les Paul?  His real name was Lester Williams Polsfuss. He was born in 1915, played jazz, country and blues guitar, and pioneered rock and roll.  He invented the solid-body electric guitar and was one of the first to experiment with overdubbing, tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording.  He is a worthy member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1950's Paul and Mary Ford ruled radio, and later television airwaves, with witty repartee, Mary’s country singing voice, and Les Paul’s virtuoso guitar playing and musical inventions.

Paul died in 2009 of pneumonia at the age of 94.  Four years prior to his death he was venerated by the world's greatest popular music artists through this compilation of recordings.  At 90 years old, for his birthday, Paul got together with a group of his worshippers and produced an extraordinary album of rock and blues covers called American Made World Played.  It is an absolute wonder that should be a mainstay in every rocker’s collection.  Check these tracks out:

The album opens with the introduction to the Les Paul Radio Show and flows directly into the hottest version of "Love Sneakin' Up On You", sung by Joss Stone and Sting with Les Paul on guitar, that you will ever hear. Before you catch your breath the album ignites with a version of "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" with licks and lyrics traded by Paul, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Edgar Winter, and Mick Hucknall (Simply Red). Then, Paul sits down with Eric Clapton and they perform a moving version of Sam Cooke’s "Ease Your Troublin' Mind".   As Clapton leaves Peter Frampton takes his place and he and Paul play "So Into You".  Alsou, a Russian synthpop artist, cuts together audio tape from the old Les Paul and Mary Ford TV Show and inserts the clips into an ethereal version of Paul's hit and jazz standard "How High The Moon" that she performs with Paul.

When Alsou departs ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons arrives. He and Paul cook up a driving version of "Bad Case Of Lovin' You." Next to sit with Paul are Journey’s Neal Schon and singer Beth Hart. Paul and Schon take the opportunity to back Hart on a version of "I Wanna Know You" that summons the soul of Janis Joplin.  Schon and Hart cede the chair next to Paul to Jeff Beck so Beck and Paul can record the best version of Sam Cooke's "(Ain't That) Good News" that, in my humble opinion, has ever been recorded.  Paul then offers a chair to Ritchie Sambora and they play a gritty version of Paul McCartney's "Let Me Roll It." 

A solo Paul effort, a quick, harsh, highly processed version of "Caravan,"  which sounds nothing like Paul’s 1950's hit, marks a interlude before Buddy Guy, Keith Richards and Rick Derringer drop by.  They join Paul on a rockin‘, dirty version of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl". Guy, Richards and Derringer bug out and give Goo Goo Dolls lead singer and guitarist Johnny Rzeznik an opportunity to play "All I Want Is You" with Paul. Paul then provides a second personal interlude with a funky, highly processed and high energy progressive jazz version of "69 Freedom Special".

Paul has his Godson sit down and play with him.  First, there is an audio clip from the Les Paul Radio Show of an interaction between the Godson, Steve Miller, and the Godfather, Les Paul, where Paul make prescient comments about, and compliments Miller on, his boyish screaming/singing.  The track morphs into Miller and Paul playing a beautiful stripped down version of "Fly Like An Eagle". The album ends with an amazing performance of one of the greatest blues songs ever written, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know", that is performed by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Paul, former Kid Rock guitarist Kenny Olsen and Hucknall.    

Some birthday party, huh!?!  Best part is they recorded it and we can listen anytime we want.  It is a birthday present that keeps giving from the late Les Paul and his amazing friends.

- Old School  








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