Alexis Korner

Alexis Korner and Friends [DVD]

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The main body of this disc is made up of a concert held to honor British blues legend Alexis Korner in the early 1980s, featuring Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ruby Turner. From the opening, which heavily features the trombone and saxophone section, one can see the special brand of British blues that Korner represented, some distance from the Rolling Stones and most of the other acts that followed in his wake. This concert represents just about the best showcase that Korner ever had for his brand of blues, demonstrating just how taut and precise this type of big-band blues could be in the right hands. Korner gets to sing a bit as well as play some hot lead guitar, and he turns in a killer rendition of "Hoochie Coochie Man," among other songs; if that song shows his command of Muddy Waters' sound, then his original "Mean Fool" touches down in John Lee Hooker territory, and the finale, "Clapping Song," steps into Bo Diddley's realm. The bonus features include a documentary entitled Alexis Korner: The Man and His Music -- following a montage of his album jackets, we get recollections of Korner from deejay Bob Harris, who takes us back to Korner's career roots in the 1950s, and then forward through to the Ealing Club, and his attracting people like Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Jack Bruce, and Eric Burdon -- Korner himself is heard and seen in archival footage, explaining how he came to get his residency at the Marquee Club, and we see concert excerpts of Korner on-stage. The only flaw in this section of the documentary is that there is no mention made of Korner's original musical partner, Cyril Davies. There's also a documental on Furry Lewis that's worth the price of the disc -- why it's here is anyone's guess, but it's made up of stills accompanied by Lewis' recollections, and cuts back to footage of Lewis playing before an audience in the 1970s. The 18-minute tribute closes with the first half of Lewis' classic rendition of "Casey Jones."