3 Items: The Paul And John live, Jerry Wexler dead, and another great review for It Ain’t Easy

FIRST LET ME SAY THANK YOU to all the people who showed up for International Pop Overthrow at the Rockit Room in San Francisco on Saturday night to witness the debut of The Paul And John, the band I am in with ace guitarist and songwriter John Moremen, backed for the evening by the also ace rhythm section of Mike Levy (bass) and Daniel Swan (drums). Here’s a candid backstage photo taken by my friend Suzie.

THE PAUL AND JOHN (left to right, Mike, Daniel, John and Paul) (photo: © Suzie Racho)

As promised, we played our five songs and got off the stage. No one got hurt. Now it’s back to the studio to finish our debut recording, now with a working title of INNER SUNSET. As Matt Drudge would say, file under “developing…”

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next: GIVING SOME “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” TO JERRY WEXLER – A REAL “RECORDS MAN”

As I seem to be doing a lot lately, here on the blog, I have to take a moment to note the passing of another music business giant.
Jerry Wexler, one of those prescient white men who understood the beauty of so-called “Race Records” died over the weekend at the age of 91. I note his passing not just because was a seminal producer and A&R man at the mighty Atlantic Records working alongside the Ertegun brothers, Ahmet and Nesuhi. Not just because he brought us Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Drifters and the wicked Wilson Pickett. Not just because he had a hand in iconic soul workouts like “Mustang Sally”, “Respect” “Land of 1,000 Dances” and produced real artistes like Willie Nelson, The Staple Singers, Dire Straits and Bob Dylan.

I celebrate Jerry Wexler because he and I had but one thing in common: we both love music, real music, deeply and passionately.
You can read scholarly and in depth obituaries all over the web, try this one, but what I want to say – here on the Pulmyears Music Blog – is simply this:

Thank You Mr. Wexler. Thank you for having “great ears”, for being not only colour-blind but for actually seeing that music has no race. For being one of the good ones, the music business professionals who follow their ears and heart and never forget that without MUSIC there’d be no BUSINESS. People like you are, quite literally, a dying breed.
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And finally, I’m blown away by the great critical response to my most recent book, IT AIN’T EASY: LONG JOHN BALDRY AND THE BIRTH OF THE BRITISH BLUES. We’ve gotten solid praise from Canada’s Globe And Mail and from Blues Revue, Downbeat and Record Collector and now comes Dave Thompson’s great review in the July issue of Goldmine:

GOLDMINE, JULY 08

BOOK REVIEW: “It Ain’t Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of British Blues”

Long John Baldry is one of the legends of British blues and rock… unsung, if you measure success via hit records and profiles on Overhypedwhore.com-style Web sites, but an unquestioned Godhead to anybody who actually cares about the music that preceded our rush into mass-consumerism.

Briefly, Baldry was one of the instigators of the early ’60s British blues scene, as much a midwife as Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies, and as vital to what it all turned into as the Stones or the Yardbirds. Both Rod Stewart and Elton John passed through his band (albeit at different times), and later thanked him for their good fortune by producing a couple of Baldry’s early ’70s albums. Even more tellingly, however, they also contribute their memories to this book, the first ever biography of this giant of a man (literally — his nickname was not a joke), and one of the finest ever excursions into the roots of the music that conquered the world.

Baldry himself died in July 2005, before author Paul Myers began work on this book, and the absence of his voice is naturally felt. But a cast of characters that draws from throughout his 64 years, friends and family alike (Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Andrew Loog Oldham and Mick Fleetwood also participate) includes more than enough testimony for us to know that this is as close to the truth as such a legend could — or, indeed, should — ever allow us. (Paperback, 270 pages, $18.95. Greystone Books

— Dave Thompson
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