"Thank You Les, A Tribute to Les Paul" Issued on 180g AAA Vinyl!

This loving tribute to Les Paul featuring longtime trio cohort Lou Pallo and others with whom Les played at Fat Tuesdays and the Iridium is musically fabulous assuming you like the timeless "old school" style. And if not, why not? If it's good enough for Keith Richards, Steve Miller, Billy F. Gibbons and Slash, among others who perform here in that style, well hell, then it's good enough for you!

No doubt Les's playing and his technological innovations with guitar and multi-tracked overdubbing affected all of them. But surely his playing hit them more squarely in their young guitarists' wheelhouses.

The production was all-analog on vintage tube gear that warmed up the CD reviewed here a few months ago, but on vinyl? OMG! Anyone who thinks CDs are "transparent to the source" will surely change their minds hearing this AA recording in its most pure AAA state (though Slash's and Billy F. Gibbon's parts were recorded elsewhere and probably "phoned in" digitally and added to the final mix) compared to the CD version, though the CD has 21 songs, compared to the LPs 12 (maybe a volume 2 if this sells well enough?). There simply wasn't room for it all.

The concept was simple: pay tribute to Les by having his friends and fans play and sing songs—mostly standards— that he played in concert, along with some that he made famous on record, some with Mary Ford, and probably some that were just of that particular musical time when Les's commercial popularity peaked.

Contributing guitar and vocals are Steve Miller (who was Les Paul's godson as he relates in a pungent liner note story), the aforementioned Gibbons, Slash and Keith Richards (on "It's Been a Long, Long Time"), José Feliciano, Blondie Chaplin, and "Jersey boys" guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and Rascal Eddie Brigati, Jr.. The performances by artists you're less likely to know, including those who regularly played with Les, are no less notable as you'll discover if you purchase this superb sounding slab of vinyl.

There are no lowlights, but one of the highlights is the rich, reverberant recording. You'll sink your ears into it within seconds of the opener "Avalon" (not the Roxy Music song!) featuring guitarist Frank Vignola. It's almost unfair to single out any one track among the twelve tunes, but for me, Steve Miller's take on "Nature Boy" was particularly elegant. Nothing beats people singing and playing live together minus auto-tune. On the vinyl more so than on the CD, "Vaya Con Dios"—a song long associated with the late Mary Ford— eerily channels Les's former spouse and musical partner, courtesy Arlen Roth and daughter Lexie.

I've played the CD version dozens of times and thought I'd explored and absorbed the recording's every nook and cranny, but the first play on vinyl was revelatory—an eerily transparent "you are in the studio with the musicians" experience. Instrumental textures and fingers on frets touches are reproduced with sensational realism. If you are fortunate enough to own any of Les and Mary's rich, warm "melt in your ears" later Columbia "6 eye" recordings like Warm and Wonderful (CS 8488), Swingin' South!! (CS 8728) or Lover's Luau (CS 8086), I think you'll agree that this modern recording gets so sonically close to those, it's scary! I wasn't sure that was any longer possible.

Great performances, particularly out-of-their-comfort-zone ones from rockers, a stellar recording and a warm, warm feeling you'll get every play of this heartfelt tribute album make it so easy to recommend.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be invited by the producer to attend a vinyl release party at New York's The Cutting Room club.

Pre- concert, the club ran the video that's included in the deluxe CD/DVD edition, showing the making of the album. Then Lou Pallo took the stage and the live tribute began. At one point Lou played a touching and somewhat eerie duet with a video of Les. Many of the players on the album performed with Anton Fig sitting in on drums.

Though there were some predictable no shows like Slash, Billy F Gibbons, "Keef" and José Feliciano, Eddie Brigati was in the house and he brought along Rascal guitarist Gene Cornish for a great live version of "How Can I Be Sure" along with "I'm Confessin' That I Love You", the song he contributes to the album.

One of the set's highlights was Blondie Chaplin's reprise of the album closer "Smile." After prefacing the performance by relating that a dear friend had just passed away, he sang the song with a depth of feeling that was both heartbreaking and brave. The show had its comedic vaudeville moments too, courtesy Bob Leive, a talented trumpeter and clown.

This, numbered, limited edition vinyl version, mastered by Alex DeTurk at Masterdisk and pressed at Pallas is highly recommended!

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jth496's picture

It's "Vaya con Dios." Cheers, jth

Michael Fremer's picture

Guess my head was elsewhere... thanks. I'll ficks

Devil Doc's picture

Every time Mikey recormends something highly it costs me money.


mauidj's picture

Me too.....gotta get this one for sure!

iyke's picture

Not to digress, but has anyone heard Mofi's Round About Midnight or Weezer's Pinkerton?

madfloyd's picture

Mofi's Round About Midnight in my opinion, is not good. Miles' trumpet sounds distant and rolled off compared to any other mastering I've heard of this album.  I much prefer the Speakers Corner LP. 


billystamps's picture

Will be picking this up soon.