There have been a zillion at home performances created over the last several weeks by artists famous and undiscovered, young and old, solo and synced-up with bandmates. Stripped down as they are, the performances reveal just how good – or not so good – voices and musicianship are. Below are a few performances that succeed on both counts – for the most part.
Pink begins this clip by admitting that playing piano is a new part of her repertoire. Bob Dylan wrote “Make You Feel My Love” for his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. A cover of the song by Garth Brooks was a huge hit for him in 1998, as it was for Adele a decade later. Pink gives us a very pretty version for this decade, showing off her fantastic voice and the fruits of all those hours of piano practice.
The Doobie Brothers prove they still have it on both counts with this performance of “Black Water” Live in Isolation. I’m just sorry I didn’t get tapped for the amateur harmonies at the end. And Patrick Simmons is as cool a grandpa as a kid could have.
This one is a comical group effort (I’ve never seen air drumming, and I have no idea what the heck Keith is doing). But Mick is incredible! His voice hasn’t lost anything, and he even anchors the guitar work.
A few weeks ago, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for the Class of 2015, with 16 acts spanning a broad range of styles and eras. The annual announcement is always a great chance to remember acts who may have faded a bit from memory, but were very important in their day.
From the era of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (the same one where Jimi first set his guitar on fire) and Woodstock, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band played classic Chicago blues fronted by their singing and harmonica playing namesake. Butterfield was a talented young man from a well-to-do Chicago family. He studied classical flute in high school, was offered a track scholarship to Brown, and studied at the University of Chicago where he met bandmate Elvin Bishop. Fellow Chicago native Mike Bloomfield was another notable member of the band. Here’s a performance from Monterey. That’s Bishop on guitar, and Bloomfield clapping enthusiastically at the end of Butterfield’s soulful singing and harmonica work.
War formed in the 1960’s in L.A. and hit the big time when Eric Burdon, formerly of the Animals, joined the band in 1969. Who can forget their first big hit, “Spill the Wine”. Burdon only stayed with the group for a couple of years, but War kept bringing the funk well into the 1970’s. Enjoy these live versions of “Spill the Wine” and “Slipping into Darkness”.
Bill Withers is still around, though not performing anymore, and he put up a string of hits beginning with 1971’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” and running through 1981’s “Just the Two of Us”. Both songs won Grammy’s for Best R&B Song. Wither’s highest charting single, though, was 1972’s “Use Me”. Here’s a live performance of that tune by Bill, and a truly out-there cover by Mick Jagger from his 1993 solo album “Wandering Spirit”. Lenny Kravitz contributes.