Sly Stone – If You Want Me To Stay (Live on Letterman in 1983)

This is an amazing clip. Sly Stone and a couple of hand picked musicians join Paul Schaffer and band on Letterman to play “If You Want Me To Stay”, with a quick dip into “Sing A Simple Song” at the end. It’s one of the best jams I’ve seen on Letterman, Sly is all smiles throughout, and gets the audience involved towards the end. Paul Shaffer adds a whole bunch of great organ licks, too. A must see.

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Warren Zevon with Neil Young – Splendid Isolation (Live at the Bridge School Benefit in 1993)

“Splendid Isolation” is from Warren Zevon’s 1989 record Transverse City. Neil Young played on the record, and he joins Warren on stage to lend his vocals, harmonica, and guitar to the track. It’s pretty sweet.

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Sly and the Family Stone – Higher (Live at Woodstock in 1969)

I recently picked up the Sly and the Family Stone box set Higher!, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Sly lately. It got me thinking about my first introduction to Sly and the Family Stone, which was when I was 12 or so watching Woodstock on PBS. Of all the acts, my 12 year old brain was most blown away by these guys. Sly Stone was incredible to watch. His outfit was amazing – all that frill! – and he was in complete control, the master of ceremonies. The band was tight, really on fire, and I was fascinated by the diversity of the people and instruments in the band. A trumpet solo and a sax solo!

“Higher” concluded their set at Woodstock. I wasn’t able to find a clip that captured everything they included in the Woodstock movie, but this was the highlight.

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Album Review: Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate

Funkadelic - first ya gotta Shake the Gatefirst ya gotta Shake the Gate is the first album of new material from George Clinton and his Funkadelic music collective in over 30 years. The last Funkadelic record was 1981’s Electric Spanking of War Babies. To make up for lost time, Clinton has included 33 songs on the album – one for each year that has passed since Electric Spanking of War Babies hit the shelves. The CD version is spread across three discs. So it’s a lot to absorb.

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Little Richard – Long Tall Sally (From Don’t Knock The Rock)

On this, the first day of 2015, we’re going to go back to the early days of rock and roll with one of the earliest rock and roll songs – “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard Penniman. In some ways, just a 12 bar blues song, but played with the frenetic energy and showmanship rock and roll would become known for. With songs like this and “Tutti Frutti” to his name, Little Richard is considered one of the architects of rock and roll. He was (and is) a personality. A big, outrageous personality that helped introduce America to rock and roll.

This video clip comes from the 1956 movie Don’t Knock The Rock. It was the follow up to Rock Around the Clock, the movie that introduced America to Bill Haley and the Comets. You can see him in this clip, too. He’s sitting at a table they pan to every once in a while, toe tapping and hand clapping along to the great Little Richard.

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Bob Dylan – Heart Of Mine (Live in 198?)

I first heard “Heart Of Mine” (a live version) when Biograph came out in 1985, but it was originally recorded for Shot Of Love. It’s remained one of my favorite Dylan compositions since I first heard it. So I was pretty psyched when I came across this clip on the YouTubes. It’s not the greatest quality video, but the song is just fantastic, and you don’t see this particular band configuration on video very often. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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Heart – Stairway To Heaven (Live at Kennedy Center in 2012)

If you’re going to cover “Stairway to Heaven” with fewer than 50 musicians, you’re wasting everybody’s time. That’s part of what makes this cover by Heart, Jason Bonham and a host of others so fun. They start out small, but by the end of the song, there must be 100 or so people on the stage.

It’s a very true to form cover, and the rendition seems to go flawlessly. You get some great audience shots, especially of the remaining band members, who are being honored at the event. The best audience moment is at about 2:08 in, when they pan to the president and the first lady. They’ve got their rock faces on. Outstanding!

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