Rockabilly singer Robert Gordon, backed by legendary session guitarist Chris Spedding, played the lounge at our local casino earlier this week. I went to see Spedding, not Gordon. He did not disappoint.
I came to know Spedding as a session man in the early ’70s, when he played guitar and bouzouki on Harry Nilsson’s “Nilsson Schmilsson” and “Son of Schmilsson” albums, two of my faves.
I came to know Spedding as a solo performer in the mid-’80s, when “Motor Bikin’,” a hit single in the UK in 1975, got some airplay on our indie radio station in Madison, Wisconsin. That airplay came as “Ready Spedding Go,” a compilation of his UK hits, was released in the States.
When he played here, Spedding did a song I’d not heard in a long time — “Guitar Jamboree.” In it, Spedding shows off his considerable skills by playing in the style of almost a dozen different guitarists.
“That’s just a one-off track that I thought of. … I figured that I ought to give all the people who know me as a guitar player a bit of flash guitar — which I don’t know why they expect flash guitar from me because I’ve never, ever done it, but I get the distinct impression that people expect me to be a flash guitarist. The reason I don’t normally do it is because I find it incredibly boring and unfulfilling. So what I did was to construct ‘Guitar Jamboree,’ an interesting song about lots of interesting things, around a few flash guitar solos.”
Indeed, Spedding is laid back on stage. His guitar does the talking.
Spedding as solo performer:
“Guitar Jamboree,” Chris Spedding, from “Ready Spedding Go,” 1984. Originally released in the UK on “Chris Spedding,” 1975.
“Hurt By Love” Chris Spedding, from “Ready Spedding Go,” 1984. Originally released in the UK on “Hurt,” 1977. Chrissie Hynde sings backup vocals on this one.
“Ready Spedding Go” is out of print, but both of these tunes are available on “The Very Best of Chris Spedding,” a 2007 import. The UK album links also are to import CDs.
Spedding as duet performer:
“Hey Little Boy (Little Girl),” Chris Spedding and Chrissie Hynde, from “Brace Yourself! A Tribute To Otis Blackwell,” 1994. Spedding plays on several cuts on this record. It’s out of print, but is available digitally.
Spedding as session man:
“Jump Into The Fire,” Harry Nilsson, from “Nilsson Schmilsson,” 1971. Plenty of flash solos on this familiar one, all as Spedding and Klaus Voorman quietly play rhythm guitar.
“At My Front Door,” Harry Nilsson, from “Son of Schmilsson,” 1972. A rollicking cover of the tune also known as “Crazy Little Mama,” a No. 1 hit on the R&B charts for the El Dorados in 1955. That’s Spedding and Peter Frampton on the electric guitars.