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Leslie West on respirator !


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On Dec. 13, 1974, I traveled from Decatur, IL to Charleston, IL (55 mile roadtrip!) to see Mountain perform at Lantz Gymnasium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. I was a freshman in college at the time, all of 18 years old, and my memory is foggy, but I must have been home for the holiday break. I only know the date because it's listed on Mountain's Concert list from that timeframe. I sure wish I had the ticket stub.

Things I remember:

The opening act was Montrose, and they absolutely stole the show. Imagine, if you will, being stoned out of your mind and the first song you hear is Rock the Nation, with Sammy on vocals, "All right! Come on Now!" That guitar riff, OMFG. It's no wonder I need to sell some guitars today!

Brownsville Station's radio hit of the day was Smokin' in the Boys Room. They were very good as well, at least to my teenage years.

By the time Mountain hit the stage, my brain was in a fog, as was the arena from all the combustibles. Mountain was very good, and very loud. There was so much smoke in the gym that the Fire Warning lights near the exits started flashing. The band was so loud that you couldn't hear the fire alarm. Everyone was glancing nervously around, but no one left.

RIP Leslie West. I love P90s to this day, and the Mississippi Queen performance is a prime example why.

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8 hours ago, Willie G. Moseley said:

And pro players were paying attention as well. When Mott the Hoople began touring in the US, Mick Ralphs took note of West.

“I saw and heard what Leslie was doing, and said ‘That’s it’ as far as tone went,” Ralphs recounted in a '94 interview. “He was getting that sound out of a slab of wood with one pickup and two knobs.”

There’s no better demonstration than this double CD:

7327721C-48BE-4B51-8287-F988800AADAC.jpeg

Ralphs has such a raw tone in these shows. Things get a bit lugubrious with a 13min. version of, “Ready for Love”, but both discs are very good. Mott gives a nod to Mountain with a fairly faithful cover of, “Long Red.” 

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Man, that is so sad! I had the privilege to spend an entire evening in is company at a jam in Saltcoats, what a genuinely lovely, funny guy. There were guys up jamming Cant Get Enough and with a shout of "I love this song!" he got up on stage to sing backing vocals with them (thought the singer was going to s**t himself). He got up and played a couple of songs too, it didn't matter what he played through he still got that tone. It was a great night. After that he always said hello whenever we went to his gigs in Glasgow.  RIP Leslie.

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3 hours ago, Midnight Moses said:

it didn't matter what he played through he still got that tone. It was a great night. RIP Leslie.

That's something that to me has always been really amazing about electric guitars in particular... The 'tone' truly is in the player!

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7 hours ago, RobB said:

Things get a bit lugubrious with a 13min. version of, “Ready for Love”, but both discs are very good. Mott gives a nod to Mountain with a fairly faithful cover of, “Long Red.” 

 

7 hours ago, Dutchman said:

Rob, did you pass out on the keyboard?

Did you just use the word "lugubrious" ?

On the muthuh' fuggin' HFC?

Did your guru give you one of those "365 New Words-A-Year Page-A-Day" calendars and suggest that you use the daily definition in proper context somewhere in the course of your routine, you know, to improve your vocabulary and thus expand your social network?

Or have you been reading too many 1960s Italian cinema critiques?

But seriously, I agree with almost everyone here on the impact of Leslie's tone, and I agree with RobB about learning Schenker's style via West. Go listen to "Nantucket Sleighride" and it sounds like it could have almost been a UFO song from the Michael era.

And yes, he was the ambassador of stripped down P-90s nutcrunch. He brought me to that table as well.

I was honored to have Leslie West borrow my JCM 900 back in 1999 when he did a local "fly-in" show in Northern Virginia. For some reason he could make it sound better than I ever did...hmmmm. I think he was even using the shitty Marshall reverb on that box. I kept his settings when he returned it. The guy was a wizard.

@BruceM that was a great review of what sounds like a killer show during the best of sonically proficient eras. Once again, being stuck in Catholic Elementary School outside Chicago denied my an unforgettable, even seminal, chaotic rock and roll experience.

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19 minutes ago, Ed Rechts said:

Once again, being stuck in Catholic Elementary School outside Chicago denied my an unforgettable, even seminal, chaotic rock and roll experience.

Explains a lot about how you turned out tho.

To my ears, Leslie West was the first guy to have a saturated, gainy tone. A true pioneer, and yes, a man who embraced what to this day remains the greatest electric guitar effect ever created: sheer volume.

Axe FX? Get TFO.

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43 minutes ago, Ed Rechts said:

Did you just use the word "lugubrious" ?

On the muthuh' fuggin' HFC?

I thought, “doleful”, sounded a tad too pretentious. 

Edited by RobB
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On 12/23/2020 at 5:11 PM, RobB said:

A dark day. I never appreciated Leslie until I read a Michael Schenker interview saying he spent a good portion of his teen years woodshedding Mountain songs. On goes the lightbulb! His influence on Michael is paramount. I finally got a grip on the Schenker style by listening to Leslie West. 

2020 can suck donkey dicks in hell. RIP, Leslie.

 

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31 minutes ago, Steve Haynie said:

 

Thanks for this, Steve. Gawd, that voice!

Note what a gracious guest Leslie is on Schenker's stage. Playing with the band and giving MS plenty of room. Now, imagine Gary Moore in the same environment? 'Nuff said.

Don't get me wrong; I love GM, but he is the KING of the headcutters, LOL!

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This is an excerpt from an archival GP interview with Leslie West.

“Mountain's first gig was at Fillmore West in 1969,” remembers Leslie West. “I had been using Marshall amps, and that’s what I expected to find when I opened a bunch of cartons that had arrived from the airport, but instead I got a Sunn - and it wasn’t even a guitar amp. 

"The cartons contained a Sunn Coliseum P.A. head and four 4x12 cabinets, and I thought, ‘There’s no way I can get a good tone out of this thing.’ But the head had four microphone inputs and a master volume control, and when I plugged in and turned it up I got this amazing tone, which became my sound. 

"And remember, this was years before amps had master volume controls. The head had huge transformers and gigantic KT88 tubes, and the cabinets were loaded with Eminence speakers, which never hurt your ears even with the treble all the way up. That’s the amp I used on Mountain Climbing, which included ‘Mississippi Queen.’”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WTH?!! Those Sunn heads were like, what, 200w? Through 16x12" speakers. Yeep!

Edited by RobB
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1000.jpeg

Love, love that guitar!

I saw only once at the Palace Theater in Albany, NY. HE was trying to talk to the audience and Felix was rather noisily tuning up. Leslie ripped into him to shut the fuck up. Funny. Didn't see too much of the concert as my future girlfriend accosted me in the hallway and we spent the concert under my jacket in the back row of the upper balcony. Fun.

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Saw him summer of 1971,  I think.  Hewas like Jackie Gleason with a Les Paul. Leaned into a riff, and then stepped back. So powerful. I think I saw a YouTube clip from a 1970(?) festival in Cincinnati earlier this year that captured that look and feel.  

In  a GP article, he talked about his summer rock camps.  He let anybody play his rig.   I thought that was classy.  Will dig out "Mountain Climbing" first chance I get. 

RIP.  We owe you.

 

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