The re-release of this classic live album contains 8 previously unreleased live performances and 4 rare studio recordings.
The rock & roll road show never really caught on, which is surprising given that Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen revue showed tour dogs how it's done. Recorded live at New York's Fillmore East in the spring of 1970, this set (as well as a film of the same name) documents a slapdash extravaganza (the whole thing was conceived, organized, and abandoned over the course of two months) that overflows with big, brassy, rockin' soul. Front and center is Joe Cocker, a spastically charismatic Brit soul shouter. The bandleader is Leon Russell, playing some of the best rock piano ever waxed. And the crack company (boasting 21 singers and players) features the Rolling Stones' future horn section and Derek & the Dominoes' rhythm-section-in-waiting. Cocker shines on "Cry Me a River," "Give Peace a Chance," "The Letter," and a slew of other covers that benefit greatly from the volcanic arrangements whipped up by Russell and Chris Stainton. It may have been the Ray Charles revue for the Woodstock Generation, but, shockingly, the Genius himself hasn't made too many records that surpass this one. --Steven Stolder