Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The British Kings find their way home

It has been said that guitar wizard Alvin Lee of Ten Year After was paying homage to Sun Records in his searing rendition of "I'm Going Home" which he performed live at Woodstock in 1969. While I have no way to verify this claim, the dynamics and style of this number certainly are reminiscent of the reckless abandon on display during the early rockabilly years. What is verifiable is the direction Alvin Lee has gone in recent years with recordings such as Alvin Lee in Tennessee, (2004) recorded in Memphis together with the living legend Scotty Moore, known for his guitar work on the early Elvis recordings at Sam Phillips' studio at Sun Records. Lee follows this recording up in a similar roots vein with Saguitar, released in 2007.

Another of the "British Kings," Jimmy Page, also found his way home in the collaborative effort with Led Zeppelin's own Robert Plant as the Honeydrippers, a group whose covers clearly demonstrate their interest in American roots music from the the 1950's. Their hit "Sea of Love" from the Honeydrippers album, a cover of the Phil Phillips 1959 number 1 Billboard hit, was a winner for them in 1984.

Finally, Jeff Beck, who many claim to be Great Britain's finest guitarist, came home in a big way with his 1993 release of Crazy Legs, a wholehearted tribute to the guitar genius of the late Cliff Gallup, Gene Vincent's guitar player on the Blue Caps recordings from 1956.

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