Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Can't You Hear Me Knocking: Mick Taylor at the Iridium

Last Thursday, my friends Dan, Kevin and I had the good fortune to see legendary guitarist Mick Taylor at the famed New York City jazz club Iridium.

Taylor, as any Rock Turtleneck reader surely knows, was the "other Mick" in the Rolling Stones for most of what is surely the greatest run of consecutive classic LPs ever recorded. His soaring, stinging leads can be heard especially all over Exile on Main St. and what I think may be the greatest record of all time by anyone, Sticky Fingers. His leads were a thrilling counterpart to Keith Richards' chugging rhythm guitar and gave the Stones a dimension that their music lacked before and ever since.

Surrounded by an ad-hoc band of studio and touring pros, Taylor gave a master class in emotion and feel at his Iridium set. He does not play particularly quickly or rely on any sort of gimmicks or fancy effects. Rather, he simply makes every note count, and he knows intuitively exactly what notes to play.

Mick went light on the Stones material, playing only the instrumental coda of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" (he wouldn't be able to get out of there alive without doing so), and pulled out his Gibson SG for a hot version of the Robert Johnson standard "Stop Breakin' Down," which the Stones covered on Exile.

Mick played some of his signature slide leads here, which more than made up for the fact that this "early show" was only an hour or so long. Some guy sitting WAY behind me was kind enough to record it.

Making the show particularly special was the fact that my buds and I scored tickets in the very front of the venue. I was literally right against the stage, close enough to reach out and touch the man, were I not a man of wealth and taste. (All of these pictures were taken with my iPhone, with no zooming or cropping necessary.)

While waiting for someone with the same surname Turtleneck to get out of our reserved seats, we struck up a very brief conversation with longtime Rolling Stone writer David Fricke. He was kind enough to write a detailed review of the show, which you can read here.

Mick Taylor has fallen on hard emotional and financial times in recent years, but has lost none of his musical gifts. I suggest he cash in his pedigree with a tell-all book about his years with the Stones, replacing Eric Clapton in the Blues Breakers and backing up Bob Dylan on the Infidels album and underrated 1984 European tour.

Here's the "other Mick" and the original Mick, back in the day, doing some fine work on the country romp "Dead Flowers." 

Buy the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers on iTunes here (no zipper required)


Jon Clarke said...

No fancy effects"? I clearly see a pedalboard in the Rolling Stone pic.

Wait, it's BOSS. Okay, not fancy.

TCB Walsh said...

I should say he didn't have a "preponderance of effects" - just 3 or 4 basic pedals - wah wah, chorus etc.