Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Many Shades of Leon Russell: If It Wasn't For Bad

When you put two great musicians together, often there is a synergy that produces an output greater than the two musicians can produce individually. That’s what happened when Elton John and Leon Russell teamed up for an album and a tour called “The Union.” Of all of Leon Russell’s projects, it is his second highest charting album at #3. It was only eclipsed by 1972’s “Carney” that peaked at #2.

The signature tune from the album is its opening cut “If It Wasn’t For Bad.” Written by and featuring the lead vocals of Leon Russell, “If It Wasn’t For Bad” was nominated for the “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” Grammy. That honor went to Herbie Hancock et al. with their treatment of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

One thing that confuses me is the track listing which identifies the song as “If It Wasn’t For Bad (featuring Kurt Erwin). “ Erwin’s name is not listed in the credits and I could not find a musician named Kurt Erwin – although there is an account under that name at Sound Cloud. Could this be a joke? Perhaps, it is someone who is using a pseudonym due to contractual arrangements. We may never know, but the important thing is that it features masters of the keyboard Elton John and Leon Russell.

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