Jesse Colin Young - vocals, guitar; Rick "Earthquake" Anderson - harmonica; Scott Lawrence - piano, keyboards, vocals; Eddie Ottenstein - bass, vocals; Jeffrey Myer - drums; Guest: Lenny ? - congas
With one of the most compelling and soothing voices of the 1960s, Jesse Colin Young began his career as a folksinger on the coffeehouse circuit of Greenwich Village. After releasing two solo albums in 1964 and 1965, he met up with Cambridge guitarist Jerry Corbitt and along with multi-instrumentalist Lowell "Banana" Levenger and drummer Joe Bauer, formed the Youngbloods in 1966. Soon signed to RCA, the Youngbloods exemplified the peace and love esthetic of the 1960s and created some of the most enduring good-vibe music of the era, fusing elements of folk, jugband, rock, and blues into a sound uniquely their own. By 1969, Jerry Corbitt had dropped out, reducing the group to a trio. They relocated to San Francisco and recorded Elephant Mountain, one of the landmark albums of the 1960s at the peak of their creativity. This album not only featured a wealth of great original material, but also began incorporating jazzier improvisational elements into the mix. Following a public-service commercial for the National Council of Christians and Jews, which featured the Youngbloods recording of "Get Together," RCA re-released the song as a single. Now widely considered an anthem of the 1960s, this song raced up the charts becoming a Top Ten hit nearly three years after it was recorded. At this point, the group launched their own label, Raccoon Records, where they continued releasing Youngbloods albums as well as solo projects by each of the members. By far, the most successful of these releases was Jesse Colin Young's solo album, Together, released in March of 1972. Following the success of his solo album, Young recorded one last album with the Youngbloods later in the year and then disbanded the group to pursue a solo career.
This remarkable recording captures Jesse Colin Young at this pivotal moment in time, just months after leaving the Youngbloods, but before he released his 1973 breakthrough album, Song For Juli. Not surprisingly, this performance features a wealth of great material spanning his early career, including revamped arrangements of many key Youngbloods' songs, a smattering of covers as well as fresh new solo material, including a few sneak previews of material destined for the Song For Juli album later that year.
Drummer Jeffrey Meyer, followed by pianist Scott Lawrence, kick things off with the bluesy groove of "Walkin' Blues." This song displays the more improvisational approach of this group, with Young, Anderson, and Lawrence all taking tasty solos. Next up is "Euphoria," a classic early 1960s Holy Modal Rounders cover. Taken at a more relaxed tempo than the Youngbloods' version, this swings delightfully. Young next explores Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues." Unlike the more familiar Allman Brothers version, Young and band revamp this with a shuffling beat. Next up is "Sunlight," one of Young's most beautiful songs followed by a lovely reading of "Evenin', the first preview of material destined for his next album. Following an infectious take on the Beatles' "I've Just Seen A Face," they return to Youngbloods-era material with "The Wine Song," a feel-good song if ever there was one. This vibe continues with the rustic "Good Times" and the 1950s Chuck Berry classic, "Sweet Little Sixteen."
By this point, the group is fully hitting their stride and after delivering a relaxed take of the Youngbloods' classic, "Sugar Babe," they dive headlong into the centerpiece of the set, "Ride The Wind." Young's vocals never sounded better than they did on the original Youngbloods recording, but this too is quite special. Clocking in at nearly 15 minutes, this is an absolutely beautiful rendition, highly expanded to feature the jazzy interplay of pianist Scott Lawrence and the breezy harmonica solos of Earthquake Anderson. It also features a guest conga player (only identified as Lenny) soloing midway, before the whole group launches back in providing propulsive support for Young's scat-style vocal improvisations.
The remainder of the set focuses on some of Young's influences, featuring a driving cover of Dave Dudley's classic "Six Days On The Road," T-Bone Walker's "T-Bone Shuffle," and the Bo Diddley beat-fueled "Willie And The Hand Jive" to conclude the set. Young and the band return for an encore featuring a medley of Clifton Cheneir's Cajun flavored "Lafayette Waltz" which segues into a joyous "Jambalaya" to close the performance on a celebratory note.