2   Rock Around The World October 1977

Manhattan Madness

by Kris DiLorenzo


outstanding elements of Raitt’s performance that night, except for a sore throat which got the better of Bonnie’s high notes; the show was flawless. Raitt’s slide playing on “Kokomo” and Wallace’s first single was a liquid wonder; her touch just hasn’t been duplicated by any other contemporary blues guitarist. That touch turned gutbucket raunchy on “Bout To Make Me Leave Home” (for Phoebe Snow, in the audience) and “Three Time Loser”—

August was certainly a month for quality concerts in the Big Apple. Garland Jeffreys affirmed his hometown “favorite son” status when he opened for Bonnie Raitt in Central Park. Performing with a larger band and newly-adopted lead-singer affectations, Jeffreys has virtually abandoned his rhythm guitar in favor of a microphone. The music ranged from pseudo-Marley style reggae (“Spanish Town”) to R&B (“Cool Down Boy”) to rock (“Wild In The Streets”) to ballads (“Ghost Writer”). His lyrics were sometimes cliched and his delivery forced, but the emotional color in Jeffreys’ voice hypnotized the crowd into enthusiastic response.

Jeffreys is one of the few political singer-songwriters currently performing who isn’t a folkie relic from the Sixties. His “35 Millimeter Dream” was as intense as Lou Reed ever gets, and the defiant “Ghost Writer” (a challenge to the baser motives of the star-maker machinery) were statements of insight and anger: “Wild In The Streets” is as pungent a punk statement as anything the New Wave bands have produced. With a Roger Daltrey at the helm, it could be a classic of “My Generation” calibre; Garland Jeffreys’ self-consciousness, however, defused its power. (The arrogance in his act is too artificial; anyone who leaves his trademark hat hanging over the mikestand as an encore ploy isn’t exactly sincere.) Ace axe David Spinozza, who grew up with Jeffreys on New York’s east side, showed up to lend a hand on several tunes.

Bonnie Raitt’s performance had quite a different tone. From extremely personal love song to flat-out rocker, Bonnie seemed to thoroughly feel each song and presented them with T.L.C. to a very appreciative audience. She brewed infectious reggae out of “Good Enough,” wrought exquisite harmonies on Karla Bonoff’s “Home,” funked the hell out of Del Shannon’s

Garland Jeffreys

“Runaway,” and wooed the hushed crowd (and her old man, present in the audience) on “Nothing Seems To Matter Without You.”

Raitt’s band does itself better each time they perform; new guitarist Will MacFarlane was superb on atmospheric pedal steel (“Opening Farewell”) and a fierce slide duet with Bonnie (“Bout To Make Me Leave Home”). Bassplayer Freebo de-

lighted his fans with some improbably blues tuba playing on a Sippie Wallace tune and his complemtary vocals on “Love Has No Pride.” Marty Kreb’s excellent sax riffs (“Runaway” and “Going Home”) propelled the band into a stone groove, while Dennis Quittit’s percussion nailed down a solid bottom.

Musicianship and personality were the

Phoebe Snow

as did Raitt’s humor. Amazingly, most of Bonnie’s puns, double entendres, innuendoes and just plain dirty remarks escaped her audience’s ears. Maybe they just couldn’t believe that such a sweet-looking woman could say such things, but when Raitt substituted “hard-ons” for “heartaches” in “Three Time Loser,” only a few women in the crowd got the joke. Could it be that this rock audience was so busy listening to the music they didn’t have time to think about sex? It seems so; Raitt was called back for two encores and would have been asked for more if the park curfew and her growing hoarseness hadn’t prevailed.

ABC Records threw a picnic-barbecue up in Woodstock for Levon Helm (formerly of The Band) to celebrate the association of Helm’s RCO Woodstock Company with ABC and the release of Helm’s new album. Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Robbie Robertson, John Sebastian, and Mick Ronson were present for the event, helping the guest roster rival that of Capricorn Records’ annual summer barbecue in terms of quality, if not quantity.

German music machine Ktaftwerk were in town just after Labor Day to attend the 1977 Disco Music Awards Show. Believe it or not, those clean-cut young men whose mechanically inspired trance music first invaded your airwaves with “Autobahn” and “Radioactivity” have been nominated for Best European Disco Group (Male) as well as Best Male Group, thanks to the disco success of their most recent single, “Trans-Europe Express.” Now, if that isn’t a prime example of crossover market potential fulfilled, Willy DeVille wears loafers.

Another clever party idea: the celebration for Harry Chapin’s “Dance Band On The Titanic” was held aboard a chartered boat which cruised around the tip of Manhattan while revellers caroused. Isn’t that tempting fate a bit, folks?

Possibly the biggest noise Central Park has ever heard was the cheering of approximately 125,000 fans at the Beach Boys’ free concert in honor of WNEW-FM’s tenth anniversary. For an hour and a half, mid-Manhattan rocked to the California sound of America’s most venerable musical institution. The effect on New York’s surrounding luxury hotels and Fifth Avenue residents has yet to be assessed.

The band behind Robert Gordon and Link Wray at their Bottom Line date featured Rockin’ Rob Stoner (of Rolling Thunder Revue fame) on bass. Stoner’s new band. Topaz, is stirring up some excitement among the locals here: they play real rock ‘n’ roll.

Speaking of real r&r, Patti Smith is now in the studio with producer Jimmy lovine recording her next Arista Ip. Also preparing albums are formerly-Dead Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia. Garcia’s self-produced solo effort is tentatively titled, Cats Under The Stars. Both Ips are due in November, as is Lou Reed’s next one (being produced by rock writer Richard Robinson). “Underground” singer-song-writer star David Forman is in the studio with the formidable Jack Nietzsche at the controls. Nietzsche, for the uninitiated, has a mind-bottling list of credits (including the Stones) and has been a top-ranking music bizz crazie since his days with Phil Spector.

Not only Ray Davies, but half of New York, it seemed, turned out to hear Phoebe Snow in Central Park the night after Bonnie Raitt’s show galvanized even those in the farthest bleachers. Davies, sans limousine or entourage, showed up at the press gate on foot, dapper in black suit and tinted shades and utterly befuddled as to the procedure of locating his hosts (promoter Ron Delsener’s office). Ray, temporarily unnoticed by security and backstage hangers-on, presented this writer, of all people, with his “credentials” (a handwritten letter to the effect that “Mr. Douglas” and guest were to be admitted), and began explaining the situation rather like a kid with a not-quite-bona-fide absence note approaching the school principal. He probably would have carried on his incognito act all the way to Phoebe’s trailer if I’d been able to keep a straight face and call him “Mr. Douglas.” As it was, people were beginning to stare (after all, who on earth goes to a midsummer concert in the park, a rock concert, no less, in a well-tailored three-piece suit?); yours truly whispered politely that he’d better get inside pronto before everyone figured out who he was, and tried not to laugh. Relieved, Ray broke out the infamous gap-toothed grin and obediently followed my instructions to go immediately through the gate and keep walking, quickly. Once inside, he was safe for a while, till heads started turning and he was recognized. Query: If they’d a known he was coming, would they have baked him a cake?

The ever-charming boy-next-door Dean Friedman opened that night with a pleasant set most memorable for his very contemporary paean to true love, “Ariel.” Then came Phoebe, and oh, what a night! Snow’s voice is surely a freak of nature; there’s probably no other (white) singer around with her stratospheric range, exquisite control and goosebump-producing power. With a stellar band featuring Mike Brecker (sax), topflight session man Will Lee (bass), Chris Parker (Stuff) on drums, and the rambunctious Rev. Michael Gray

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