Johnny Rivers / Johnny Rivers & His L.A. Boogie Band

Last Boogie in Paris

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Johnny Rivers was no stranger to live albums by the time he released this 1973 show taped at the close of a European tour. His first four albums were all recorded live at the Los Angeles club the Whisky A Go-Go in the mid-'60s, and from those albums five singles went into the national Top Ten. After 1967, Rivers' recording career basically dried up for five years, until he returned to the Top Ten with a cover of Huey "Piano" Smith & the Clowns' "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu." He was probably hoping that another live album would rekindle some of that earlier magic on the LP chart, but it wasn't to be: Last Boogie in Paris failed to land in the Top 100. It's not that it was a bad album, not by any means: Rivers still had a gift for making just about any song he covered his own, and for this tour he backed himself with some of the finest musicians the West Coast had to offer, dubbing them the L.A. Boogie Band for the occasion. Although he had scored hits with some of his own compositions by this time, Rivers' stock-in-trade was still the cover version, and he mixed his influences well here, applying his voice to material by Curtis Mayfield ("It's Alright"), Holland-Dozier-Holland (the Four Tops' "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'," a 1967 number three hit for Rivers), Little Richard ("Long Tall Sally"), Lennon-McCartney (a spirited "I've Just Seen a Face"), Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl") and others. "Summer Rain," one of Rivers' finest ballads, is a highlight of the set, and he reprises Chuck Berry's "Memphis," which had provided him with his first hit in 1964. Although the show is sung and played in an engaging, professional manner -- Rivers' guitar playing rocks; he was always underrated in that department -- the album, possibly because he used studio pros on the road, never quite captures the manic party atmosphere that characterized those earlier Whisky recordings. And the album-ending "John Lee Hooker '74," a Rivers-penned tribute to the bluesman, seems endless and draggy.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:18
2 4:02
3
3:33
4
3:51
5
3:23
6
3:11
7
3:59
8
3:08
9
3:20
10 2:33
11
3:26
12
4:28
13 3:14
14
2:47
15
2:52
16
5:14
17
4:16
18
10:41
blue highlight denotes track pick