Live At BB King’s Blues Club, NYC
Robert Gordon & Chris Spedding
Elvis Birthday Celebration
A re-print by Richard Ludmerer
Actually Elvis’s birthday is 1/8 but it was celebrated last night at BB King’s Blues Club. Featured was the rockabilly great Robert Gordon. An ex-member of the New York band The Tuff Darts he began working with guitarist Link Wray. In 1977 Gordon had his first hit with “Red Hot”. The next year he scored again with Bruce Springsteen’s song “Fire”.
Having a baritone voice similar to Elvis and recording with the Jordanaires helped, but Gordon is a true rockabilly believer. He not only performs his own songs and those of (early) Elvis but also songs by Gene Vincent, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash and other rockabilly greats. He is and always was a rockabilly revivalist.
In 1978 Gordon and Link Wray separated. At that time Wray (who passed in 2005) was replaced with Chris Spedding. They worked on and off for several years. Later Gordon recorded the “Humbler” with Danny Gatton (who died of a self inflicted gunshot wound in 1995) and bassist Tony Garnier. In 2007 Robert and Chris got back together and recorded “It’s Now or Never”, a fifteen song tribute to Elvis.
This set included a variety of rockabilly songs from Elvis and others. Included was “A Mess of Blues”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Lil’ Sister”, “Don’t Leave Me Now”, “I’m Left Your Right She’s Gone”, “You’re So Square I Don’t Care”, “Love Me”, “My Baby Left Me”, “Hello Walls” (written by Willie Nelson), “Suspicion”, “Fire”, “It’s Now or Never”, and “Walk On By”. Gordon’s voice is better than ever, and when he took a break, Spedding continued with “Summertime Blues”, “Wild Thing” and “Guitar Jamboree”. The latter is a guitar showcase for Spedding as he incorporates licks from Albert King, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Jack Bruce, Pete Townsend, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Leslie West. The sound Chris gets from his f-hole Gibson thrilled the audience. When Robert Gordon returned to the stage he and Chris continued their assault with “Devil in Disguise”, “The Wanderer”, Johnny Cash’s “There You Go” and Johnny Burnette’s “Rockabilly Boogie”. The rhythm section consisted of Phil “Greasy” Carlisi , bass and Todd Glass, drums.
It seems that once every ten years I get to see Robert Gordon and each time he just blows me away. But “It’s Now or Never” if you want to still see “the real deal” rockabilly.