The Berry, Slade, Floyd Sound Scoop
Article New Musical Express, Jan 29, 1972
IN JOURNALISTIC terms, the LAF committee have a first-class scoop exclusive on Thursday, February 3. Not only do they present the only British appearance of Chuck Berry, one of the great influences of rock over 20 years, but the only college appearance of Pink Floyd, who are at present on a British tour.
As if that isn’t enough, we also have Billy Preston and Slade appearing at Coventry Locarno.
This certainly covers the diverse musical tastes at present apparent in this country.
Berry will probably create the greatest interest. Born in St Louis, 1931, he was the son of musically inclined parents, and made his first public appearance while at high school, singing in an all-male revue. Shortly afterwards he started his first professional group, working at Huff Gardens, East St. Louis.
Berry’s achievements since then have been phenomenal, and he has often been described as the King of Rhythm and Blues: his athletic performances are full of verve and enthusiasm.
Berry, who puts most of his success down to Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, first broke the white market with his American chart success in 1955, called “Maybellene." And subsequently this amazing singer/writer/ guitar-ist churned out hit after hit, many of which became standards in the repertoires of band like the Stones and Animals. There was "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Carol," " Too Much Monkey Business" and the rest.
For a while Berry the performer gradually drifted away from the music scene, but then he kicked all the critics up the backside by returning with great impact with "Memphis Tennessee" during the R&B revival.
Berry's appearance promises good time funk, and Slade will also present similar qualities in another vibrant show.
Slade are riding in on the ‘scream-scene' smacking audiences in the head and groin and sending them freaking up and down the aisles. Though they lack subtlety (and why shouldn’t they?), this one time band of skinheads have proved that technical brilliance is no substitute for an acute awareness of rollicking good music.
And obviously the same applies with Billy Preston. Though in the past he has recorded typical soul-type material, which wasn't too original, on his recent album release “Write a Simple Song," he proves on six cuts that be too can write some pretty hot material. Already review critics have decided the album will do a lot for him - after all Harrison does help him out in places, - but to me it is a shame Preston has taken so long to become recognised in his own right. He seems to have had hang-ups with numerous record companies, and lack of promotion.
Raised in Los Angeles, Preston made an early apppearance as W. C. Handy in the film "St Louis Blues." Though up until 1962 he was greatly involved in gospel music, and that still shows, he then went into the whole rock and roll bit with Little Richard. Like Berry, his roots go way back, and perhaps to the core of the present day rock idiom.
With Little Richard he backed the great and late Sam Cooke, followed by a stint with Ray Charles. When they toured Charles introduced him as “The young man that anytime I leave this business I want him to take over where I started."
"That's The Way God Planned It" was probably the first single to awaken British audiences to his good singing and organ playing. But he also worked on the Beatles "Get Back," album, and I have a feeling that Preston is going to make more of an impression than people suspect along· side such names as Berry.
Well, it appears that most of Thursday night is going to be a loon. Pink Floyd undoubtedly will continue this feel, but with more subtlety. Berry,· Preston and Slade represent what has now become the basis of rock, but Floyd are in a field of their own.
Now with one of the most sophisticated quadraphonic sounds systems, they present music, combined with sound effects in an extremely interesting way. And it is hoped that by the time they play, their brand new piece tentatively titled "Dark Side Of The Moon," will be streamlined .for a concert performance. Some night. eh?