|Melody Maker, May 29, 1976|
Caught in the Act:
Ambassador Theater, St. Louis
St. Louis -- It has become a tradition in this city for Leo Kottke and Jessie Colin Young to share the bill -- a pleasant but non-too-exciting custom in view of their recent coupling at the Ambassador Theater.
Kottke, the 12-string wizard, enjoys exposing the backside of humour by taking a satirical approach to his music in much the same way as Kurt Vonnegut does of his books. It works very well for Kottke when he puts an edge on his musical presentation and intermingled with, but is self-defeating when his efforts are less carefully produced -- and reproduced. Whether through his own laxity or that of his soundman, the tone of Kottke's two instruments (he alternated a Martin with a Bozo, and occasionally made use of a bottleneck) was often dull and blurred, with the upper and lower registers so contrasting in intonation -- the latter seemed consistently flat --- as to render the texture of his sound schizophrenic: what one could hear of it, that is since the volume was turned much too low to compete with the rude and restless SRO crowd gorging the premises.
Unlike Kottke, Jessie Colin Young was up to par, though his set never really peaked. Young is a genial showman whose voice, for that of a white man, sounds remarkably black, both when he speaks and when he sings; this is in part responsible for the fact that his rock and roll, whatever its inherent style, always has a discernible r&b undercurrent.
While his programme was wide, and included Hank Williams' country classic "Jambalaya," "Lafayette Waltz," (by Cajun songwriter Clifton Chenier), and Dave Dudley's c&w hit, "Six Days," Young was most at home, and adept at, jazz-cooled blues, like his own "Ridgestep," which has a distinctly Allmanish quality; Taj Mahal's arrangement or "Corrina," and the hard- core "T-Bone Shuffle" by T-Bone Walker. However, there was a notable exception in his popular single, "Light Shine," which he belted out with true gospel fervour. -- Patti Dewing.
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