The Carny in Japan! (and Houston too)!
This will mark the historic album’s first release outside of Japan and its first time on CD anywhere. The original album was recorded live on November 8, 1973, at the historic Nippon Bukokan Hall and will see its nine tracks complemented by a bonus set of an additional seven previously unissued live performances recorded at the Sam Houston Coliseum on April 22, 1971. Liner notes for this package were penned by Leon Russell historian Steve Todoroff—author of the upcoming book Longhair Music: The Songs And Sessions Of Leon Russell, and by Rev. Patrick Henderson, a member of the touring band for the 1973 Japan tour.
In 1973, Shelter Records released the triple album Leon Live, which reached #9 on the charts in the U.S. and earned Russell a gold record. Unbeknownst to all but the most diehard Russell fans was the fact that in 1974, Shelter released a completely different live album that was available only in Japan and appropriately titled Live In Japan. This recording was drawn from the first of two back-to-back dates recorded in 1973 at the Budokan, at a time when Leon was at the top of his game as a rock performer.
I am excited to hear the Live In Japan album myself, having not heard these tapes in so many years. The band on the show was very inspiring to me, and I think this is the kind of Leon Russell show that fans remember best. Japan is one of my favorite places on Earth.—Leon Russell
The historic Sam Houston Coliseum, up until its demolition in 1998, hosted some of the biggest acts in the history of rock ’n’ roll. The Beatles had their only Houston appearance at the Coliseum. Jimi Hendrix played the Coliseum three months before he died. Cream played the Coliseum on their Farewell Tour. Elvis Presley’s 1956 concert at the Coliseum ended abruptly, as he and his band were taken away by police escort just before the end of the show, after which a mob of about a 1,000 teenagers rushed the stage and destroyed the band’s instruments. And singer Johnny Ace shot himself playing Russian roulette backstage at the Coliseum on Christmas Eve, 1954.
When Leon Russell performed at the Sam Houston Coliseum on April 22, 1971, it was the first show of his 1971 U.S. tour, after he and the newly formed Shelter People band had honed their road-performing skills in late 1970 at venues up and down the West Coast, including an occasional show with fledgling singer/pianist Elton John.
These bonus tracks are extraordinary in many respects. They show a raw, gritty singer and his band just as they are taking off, making great, original music, while loving every minute of it. They also show why Russell was considered one of the greatest live acts in the annals of rock music. The bonus tracks are a great addition to an already great album, and the fact that they are of such a high quality for the era is nothing short of remarkable. The combination of Live In Japan and the Live in Houston ’71 tracks make this a must-have for any Leon Russell fan.
Heaven Over The Rainbow/God Put A Rainbow Queen Of The Roller Derby Roll Away The Stone Tight Rope Sweet Emily Alcatraz You Don’t Have To Go A Song For You/Of Thee I Sing/Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms Alcatraz* Stranger In A Strange Land* Groupie (Superstar)* Roll Over Beethoven* Blues Power/Shoot Out On The Plantation/As The Years Go Passing By/The Woman I Love* Jumpin’ Jack Flash* Of Thee I Sing/Yes I Am*