Joe Cocker

Mad Dogs & Englishmen at the Fillmore: March 28, 1970

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These three discs collect Joe Cocker's show from the final night (March 28, 1970) of his triumphant stand at Bill Graham's Big Apple rock & roll palace, the Fillmore East. Cocker's meteoric rise in popularity grew from his exposure in the Woodstock (1970) rockumentary. After nearly a year on the road, the artist found himself unwittingly committed to a cross-country tour that had been planned by greedy publicists, promoters, and managers who were unanimously after a financial slice of his success. As the Grease Band had broken up, Cocker was given under two weeks to find suitable support musicians and rehearse. Leon Russell (guitar/bass/piano/vocals) became the musical director and was able to locate Chris Stainton (keyboards), Don Preston (rhythm guitar), Carl Radle (bass), Jim Gordon (drums), Jim Keltner (drums), Chuck Blackwell (percussion), Sandy Koninoff (percussion), Bobby Torres (congas), Jim Price (trumpet), and Bobby Keys (sax). Plus, a ten-piece "choir" that included the talents of Rita Coolidge (vocals), Claudia Lennear (vocals), Daniel Moore (vocals), and Nicole Barclay (vocals).

The basic repertoire was repeated each night and was highlighted by a wide range of well-known covers. A few which Cocker and company turn into their own are Traffic's "Feelin' Alright," the Box Tops' "The Letter," Leonard Cohen' s "Bird on a Wire," the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" -- in which Cocker proffers his own lyrics -- and even the the Beatles' "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Something," -- and "Let It Be" -- with the latter featuring a solo from Claudia Lennear. Conspicuously absent are a number of Leon Russell cuts, such as "Hummingbird" and "Dixie Lullaby," which had been part of the previous evening's festivities. One of his tunes, however, does provide an outlet for a very young Rita Coolidge -- then pretty much unknown to the public -- as she takes the spotlight on his co-composition "Superstar." Meanwhile Russell and Cocker serve up the rousing rocker and soon-to-be concert staple "Delta Lady." Other selections that would likewise become solid entries in Cocker's live repertoire are "Let's Go Get Stoned," "Sticks and Stones" and "I'll Drown in My Own Tears" -- which were obviously inspired by the delivery of "Brother" Ray Charles. In the case of the latter, the tune is linked to "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long" for a "Blue Medley."

As the contents were remixed from multi-track tapes, the audio is quite remarkable across the board. The presentation is full with practically no noticeable compression and obvious attention was paid to presenting a detail-oriented stereo mix. The discs are housed in a specially-designed eight-panel fold-out digipack that has a brief liner essay and original artwork. Complementing this collection is Mad Dogs & Englishmen: At Fillmore East: March 27, 1970 (2006) anthologizing the following evening, as well as the Complete Mad Dogs & Englishmen at the Fillmore (2006), with both limited-edition releases in a single package.