Tag Archives: Chris Spedding

Thundersnow and lightning licks

Earlier today, we had the second outbreak of thundersnow in our corner of Wisconsin this year. Thundersnow is exactly what it sounds like — thunder and lightning during a snowstorm.

It was just another surreal aspect of what was kind of a weird day.

I wonder what Bill Kirchen thought about it all.

“The Titan of the Telecaster” was in town, wrapping up a three-night stand in our local casino lounge, sharing a bunch of fine, good-humored country, rock and rockabilly tunes and showing off some mad guitar skills.

But I think Bill Kirchen can handle weird. After all, he went to high school with Iggy Pop. And he was part of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen from the late ’60s to the mid-’70s.

Kirchen played a bunch of his own fine material before ever getting to any Commander Cody stuff. There were some nice tunes off his most recent CD — “Word To The Wise,” on Proper American Records — but he had none to sell us. The shipment hadn’t arrived.

(On that CD, you’ll hear Kirchen with Elvis Costello on the hard-edged “Man In the Bottom of the Well” and with his old friend George Frayne, the Commander himself, on the rowdy “I Don’t Work That Cheap.” Other guests include old friends Dan Hicks, Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Maria Muldaur.)

I usually don’t read up on acts I haven’t seen. I like to be surprised. So it was when Kirchen tore into “Hot Rod Lincoln” as the final number. He turned it into an extended jam in which that Lincoln was passed by cars driven by about two dozen guitar players. In so doing, Kirchen showed those mad guitar skills by offering a signature riff each time. Turns out it’s a staple of Kirchen’s shows. I could list them all, but listen to Kirchen channel them instead.

“Hot Rod Lincoln,” Bill Kirchen, from “Hot Rod Lincoln Live,” 1997.

Hearing all those guitar styles crammed into one song reminded me of something I heard on that same casino lounge stage two years ago.

In that show, Chris Spedding did “Guitar Jamboree,” showing off his considerable skills by playing “a few flash guitar solos” in the style of almost a dozen different guitarists.

“Guitar Jamboree,” Chris Spedding, from “Ready Spedding Go,” 1984. That LP is out of print. The song originally was released in the UK on “Chris Spedding,” 1975. It’s also available on “The Very Best of Chris Spedding,” a 2007 import.

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Filed under April 2011, Sounds

The other guy

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.

Here’s what Spedding says about “Guitar Jamboree” on his web site:

“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.

chrisspeddingreadygolp

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.

otisblackwelltributebraceyourselfcd

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.

spedding72

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.

Want to hear more Nilsson? Head over to our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, to hear the rest of Side 2 of “Son of Schmilsson.”

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Filed under March 2009, Sounds