LIVE from Your Speakers: Average White Band, PERSON TO PERSON
Author, deejay and (oh yeah) Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson was asked in late 2020 to name his favorite albums. Questlove is a funky drummer, and a walking encyclopedia of all things R&B and hip-hop, so his top ten albums predictably included titles from Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, D’Angelo, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Rufus, De La Soul and others. But his Number One favorite album was something of a surprise.
It was Average White Band’s 1976 live record, PERSON TO PERSON – an unexpected choice not because it is not a record brimming with soul and unadulterated funk (it most definitely is), but because … well, when was the last time you heard “Cut the Cake” or “Pick Up the Pieces” on the radio? What’s the last Average White Band album you remember? It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
It’s time to remember them again, and we thank Questlove for the reminder. AWB tours all the time (with founding bassist Alan Gorrie and guitarist Onnie McIntyre in the lead), and if the night you catch them is half as good as what’s represented on PERSON TO PERSON, you’re in for a heckuva show, indeed.
The record kicks off with the title track, and AWB presents themselves as a band ready to work, with a hot Roger Ball sax solo to amp things up a bit. They follow that with “Cut the Cake,” and by the time they get into the first “Gimme that thing” refrain, the temperature in the room is spiking. The dance floor stomper “I’m the One” is placed in the middle of the set, to make sure everyone stays up and moving – mission accomplished, and the bass-heavy “Love Your Life” has everybody clapping in the aisles, and probably in the rafters, too.
The slow jam “Cloudy” is as much a come-on here as it is on the CUT THE CAKE album, but the modulation toward the end is twice as powerful. And of course there’s “Pick Up the Pieces,” here stretched to 18 minutes with solos and player intros, but you never lose interest – it’s all hot and ridiculously engaging.
So Questlove knows what he’s talking about (was there any doubt?). PERSON TO PERSON is a stone classic you need to stream immediately, and then pick up the pieces of your blown mind afterward.
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