John Sebastian

Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian

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Like some other live albums, this one was released to provide an alternative to a bootleg. But in this case, the particular bootleg appeared to be a legitimate release. The early years of John Sebastian's solo career were bedeviled by a contract dispute involving his move from MGM records to Reprise records, and in the course of it, MGM obtained a tape of a Sebastian concert and released it without his consent under the title John Sebastian Live. That album was withdrawn, but Sebastian countered it with his own concert album, pointedly called Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian. Of course, both albums were a response to Sebastian's popularity as a solo concert attraction in the wake of his appearance in the Woodstock film and on its soundtrack album. In the early '70s, no rock festival was complete without the tie-dyed singer/songwriter and his warm and friendly stage manner. Despite the circumstances that led to this album's creation, fans had reason to rejoice, since it proved to be a definitive statement of Sebastian's stage show. Alone but for pianist Paul Harris, he ranged through a repertoire including old folk and rock & roll standards, Lovin' Spoonful songs, and his own recent solo songs. Funny, self-deprecating, and engaging in a wise, yet wide-eyed way, he turned his concert audience into a group of friends and did the same thing to those listening to the LP. Here was a performer capable of reaching back to the music of Jimmie Rodgers and Leadbelly, Carl Perkins, and the Five Satins, demonstrating how such predecessors had influenced the good-time music he made in the '60s. A virtual jukebox, he made the history of popular music seem like endless fun, and he made people who heard the album wish they'd been at the show.

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