Time capsule containing bright moments and odd lapses
loce_the_wizard | Lilburn, GA USA | 05/21/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Initially kept in the can until Leon Russell started hitting his stride in the early '70s, Asylum Choir II is an artifact from 1967-1969. This was a fertile time for music. All the popular themes of the times show up here: protests of the Vietnam war in Down on the Base and Ballad for a Soldier; notes on the political scene and corporate profit-making in the face of the war in Sweet Home Chicago, Tryin' to Stay Alive, Lady in Waiting, and Straight Brother; and, of course, love in Hello Little Friend (which would later prove a hit for Joe Cocker when Leon was running that show). The tracks sound fairly dated in part because many songs were so topical. Although Leon Russell is credited as contributing bass, guitar, piano, keyboards, vocals, and being the producer while Marc Benno is credited as a performer and producer, the music does not suffer from the "Winwood" syndrome, which occurs when one musician tries to do everything and the resulting product sounds flat and uninspired. Quite the opposite, the music, for the most part, is jaunty and full-bodied.For example, on Straight Brother, the sound is a rich pastiche of fiddle, wah-wah, percussion, bass, and some great vocals from, I would guess, Rita Coolidge (set up in the Intro to Rita). Which also begs the question: who else is making some uncredited guest appearances? I find it hard to believe the late Carl Radle only served as a photographer and never plugged in his bass here. Could one of the drummer Jims (Gordon or Kneltner) be sitting in, too? No doubt, there are quite a few uncredited performers lurking on this recording, perhaps uncredited because of contract issues.Russell, who was just gaining his musical footing about the time this album was orginially recorded, wrote some great lyrics and sings with great verve. His vocals, veering from ragged to howling, still can conjure chills on Straight Brother. And his keyboard playing is articulate and quirky, a harbinger of what was yet to come. The bonus tracks are curiosities at best, likely the product of some acid-tinged sessions that extended way past any sane hour of the night. Still, Henri the Clown is catchy litte ditty that can get stuck in your head.This CD is a great time capsule: you may not like everything you find, but you will dig through the whole thing."
Asylum choir II
lyn win | USA | 01/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a most excellent collection of bluesy funky tunes. We enjoyed this as children with our folks in the early 70's and it is still timeless today. We want to share these great funky tunes and lyical themes with our kids! It is a world view that should not be forgotten! A heartfelt snapshot in time! A classic to be passed on to yet another generation!"
Russell & Benno at their start
C. E. Dawson | Oviedo, FL USA | 02/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you have never heard Asylum Choir II and you are a student of classic rock n roll then you HAVE to get it on CD. So many underground classics are on this CD like Straight Brother, the risque Salty Candy, Sweet Home Chicago, Learn How To Boogie, etc.
The CD has 5 bonus tracks that are questionable as to why those 5 were included (not the best choices in my opinion). But, the CD is excellent and unlike other artists of the era the songs are not dated.
This is a must have for all who love rock n roll."
Asylum Choir II + Bonus Tracks (1/2 of "Look Inside...")
Vic Peppler | Virginia | 10/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Asylum Choir II is a wonderful recording. I've been through at least 3 vinyl LP's of this since it came out and was thrilled when it got to CD! Some of the words are a bit dated but the music is FUNKY and ROCKIN' and Leon is in top form (Ray Charles on acid).
Also, this is one of my favorite PRODUCED albums ever. The sound seperation and "stereo play" of the different instruments and vocals is incredible and will DRAW you in closer. This great CD should be studied for ANY serious student of record production!
I also like the first recording of the Asylum Choir named "Look In..." and would have gladly bought that CD too but for SOME REASON they decided to pick SOME of the better tracks of "Look In..." and use then as BONUS TRACKS for this release. Missing are "Indian Style" and the incredible "Thieves In The Choir" and a few others that NEED TO BE HEARD! Why they were ommited is just crazy! "