# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Various - The Secret Sessions

  by Lisa Torem

published: 17 / 3 / 2012

Various - The Secret Sessions
Label: Retroworld
Format: CD


Enthralling and long unavailable 1978 album from super group, which inlcudes Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson, Felix Pappalardi and Corky Laing

Emphatic drummer Corky Laing (Mountain), in 1978, was approached by Steve Wax, Electra/Asylum president and encouraged to form a hit-making band. Ian Hunter was added as co-writer. Mick Ronson and bassist Felix Pappalardi also were brought on. Unfortunately, though this remarkable lineup was ready to set the world on fire, the project lost its funding due to changing musical directions in the industry. Yet, the work still ensued in Levon Helm’s studio, and included Todd Rundgren, as well. An open door policy led to a host of creative ideas. When Greg Allman showed up lamenting his problems with Cher, ‘The Best Thing’ was written. On this song, Todd Rundgren plays a fierce Hammond organ. Paul Butterfield ended up guesting on ‘Just When I Needed You Most’. The resulting album, 'The Secret Sessions', has dusted off its clandestine status. The demo is loaded with spirit. ‘Easy Money’, the first tune, is vintage rock. ‘Silent Movie’ crawls along at a slower pace, but it’s still palpable. ‘I Ain’t No Angel’ has a really joyous groove. ‘The Best Thing’ pulsates. Written solely by Laing, it is thrilling Southern rock. The writing trades off. A few by Laing, a few by Hunter, quite a few were written together. It’s a great mix. ‘I Hate Dancin’’ marries pop and Motown – another Laing solo songwriting effort. ‘The Outsider’ was written exclusively by Hunter, with the incredible Leslie West serving up piercing blues hooks in this seven-minute monster. Rundgren returns to grind out perfect licks on the Hammond. Ian’s lyrics shine: “Death is my mistress/My gun is my wife.” If that doesn’t conjure up the image of an outsider, what does? I’m not sure why ‘Just When I Needed You Most’ by Randy Van Warmer was included. It doesn’t match the tone or energy of the rest. A second cover by Billy Joe Shaver makes up for the mystery, though. Felix Pappalardi’s bass is smashing against Hunter’s ever-funky piano. ‘On My Way to Georgia’, written by Laing, West and Mick Jones is a simmering broth of Southern blues, flanked by Laing’s incessant beats and brightly decorated by Dickie Betts and Eric Clapton. ‘Growing Old with Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sounds, from the title, like it would be a rock staple. Instead, it’s a curious mix of balladry lament: “I’m giving it all up for a song…” and some testicular riffs. This is a fun album for music historians who love to trace the origins of their idols. Remember, it wasn’t meant to be a glossy, fully produced project, so don’t expect to be in surround-sound heaven, but do expect to kick up your heels and grab a cold one. There’s some awesome listening to be had.

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