In the pantheon of classic live albums, Joe Cocker's 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen' is near the top, alongside 'Woodstock' and 'The Last Waltz' in defining the spirit of a generation. Now, the album – originally issued in 1970 – is heard with previously unreleased tracks and studio cuts. The 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition reveals in full for the first time, the repertoire of the craziest, loudest, longest rock 'n' roll circus to have ever hit America, featuring guests such as Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear, and Don Preston.
Leon Russell's accolades are monumental in a number of categories, from songwriting (he wrote Joe Cocker's "Delta Lady") to session playing (with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, just to name a few) to his solo work. Unfortunately, it's the last category that never really attracted as much attention as it should have, despite a multitude of blues-based gospel recordings and piano-led, Southern-styled rock albums released throughout the 1970s. Leon Russell and the Shelter People is a prime example of Russell's instrumental dexterity and ability to produce some energetic rock & roll. Poignant and expressive tracks such as "Of Thee I Sing," "Home Sweet Oklahoma," and "She Smiles Like a River" all lay claim to Russell's soulful style and are clear-cut examples of the power that he musters through his spirited piano playing and his voice. His Dylan covers are just as strong, especially "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "It Takes a Lot to Laugh," while "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" and "It's a Hard Rain Gonna Fall" have him sounding so forceful, they could have been Russell's own.