"A defining collection, fantastic musicianship abounds across these rock 'n' roll songs full of gospel and soul."
Leon Russell's accolades are monumental in a number of categories, from songwriting to session playing, to his solo work. Leon Russell and the Shelter People is the second solo album by the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. This 1971 gem shot to #17 on the Billboard album charts.
This recording 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, "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" and "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" are especially strong and have him sounding so forceful, they could have been his own compositions.
A hearty, full-flavored gospel sound is amassed thanks to both the Shelter People and the Tulsa Tops, who back Russell up on most of the tracks, but it's Russell alone that makes "The Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen" such an expressive piece and the highlight of the album. George Harrison's "Beware Of Darkness" closes the album and is as good a read as the original.