Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Live at Levon’s
As I concentrate on this well-recorded live set I’m reminded of the duo of Delaney & Bonnie (Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett) who were a husband & wife duo that got off to a strong start in 1969 with support from people like Eric Clapton, Leon Russell & many other name performers. But, they didn’t sustain what appealed to most listeners.
Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to the husband/wife team Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams. Their music & showcase on Live at Levon’s (Drops Feb 3–Royal Potato Family) is superb. “Big River,” reeks of that masterful Delaney & Bonnie vocalese. And that’s a compliment since their vocalizing was truly original for the time. My ears love it & Larry & Teresa knock this — out of the park.
The guitar on “Surrender To Love,” isn’t so much about sharp soloing & structural concision as how everything is unified, the vocals, feel & rhythmic punch. It continues on the vintage Louis Prima-Milton Kabak composition “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” that’s played with respect for an upbeat dusty oldie. The pedal steel is musical. The song comes back from relative obscurity. I’m a sucker for reviving old & obscure tunes & polishing them into possible modern classics. Teresa Williams (vocals/guitar) proves her mettle as a jazz singer when she fires the song up with nice, sweet authority. Well done.
“Angel of Darkness,” (recorded by Hot Tuna in 2011) was written by Campbell & Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen. It’s rooted in the style that was a signature of the late J.J. Cale, Tony Joe White with a pinch of Clapton. It’s all mixed with highbrow ingredients. The originality seeps through generously. And when Larry & Teresa sing together their Delaney & Bonnie tonality is eerily captured & damn enjoyable.
John Sebastian’s (The Lovin’ Spoonful) classic “Darlin’ Be Home Soon,” is gloriously poignant. I can place Teresa’s version alongside my stellar Anne Richmond Boston (Swimming Pool Q’s) version. Collections like this enrich long-past genres – the spiritual, Big Band/Swing era, contemporary Americana, pop genius melodies of the top forty 60s, dusty country & bluegrass classics, jazz masterpieces & ebullient originals.
“I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow,” is a blue plate special. Delicious performance. Impressive live work at the Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. One of the best CDs of 2023 it deserves its place by Hot Tuna, Goose Creek Symphony, Little Feat, D&B & Friends.
Produced by Larry Campbell (vocals/guitars/mandolin/fiddle/pedal steel) with Brian Mitchell (keys/accordion/vocals/harmonica), Jesse Murphy (vocals/bass/tuba) & Justin Guip (drums/percussion).
Highlights: “Surrender To Love,” “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” “Angel of Darkness,” “Darlin’ Be Home Soon,” “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow,” “Caravan,” “Old Dangerfield,” “Big River” & the excellent “It Ain’t Gonna Be a Good Night,” with Teresa’s near-Genya Ravan bluesy vocals.
Color photography courtesy: Greg Roth & with guitars Mark Seliger. The 12-cut, 59-minute CD @ https://www.larryandteresa.com/