Sunday, August 21, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: AVERAGE WHITE BAND - LIVE AT MONTREUX
In those days, you couldn't really fake it in the studio either. You had to be able to play, or at least hire studio musicians who could. But here's the proof, in this live concert, part of the ongoing series of Montreux releases, this one from 1977. Original drummer Robbie McIntosh was gone, a young drug casualty, replaced by Brit Steve Ferrone, but the rest were still pure Scots. Not that you would know it, except during stage introductions. Even the vocals didn't give 'em away, and certainly not the playing either. This tight blend of horns and soulful stuff is obviously a homage to American 60's music, with James Brown and Motown right up front. But not only did they get it right, they moved it forward, enough that "Pick Up The Pieces" was a number one hit for them, and "Cut The Cake" wasn't far behind. The first is pretty much an instrumental, and the second might as well be, and such is the strength of the groove we couldn't wait for them to hit the airwaves back then.
Unfortunately, AWB never had a frontman who could move the group along vocally, which probably hurt them in the long run. After those two hits, there wasn't much, and they petered out in the early '80's. The live set does show they could be strong in concert, and were probably best as a stage act. Hamish Stuart went on to work for several years with Paul McCartney, and Ferrone became one of the most in-demand drummers ever, doing duty for Eric Clapton, Chaka Khan, Duran Duran, the Saturday Night Live house band, and most recently, a full member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.