5702 Brace Yourself! A Tribute to Otis Blackwell
Produced by Jon Tiven and Tony Visconti
Released on February 21, 1994
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
5702 cover
[high resolution scan]

O tis was not well, having suffered a stroke in 1991 that left him paralyzed. Musicians, a likable lot by nature, did what they could to lift his spirits: they sang his praises by singing his songs. Brace Yourself might have become another oldies tribute album but for the participation of prickly artists like Graham Parker, Frank Black, Jon Spencer and Tom Verlaine. In between their idiosyncratic performances are faithful readings from Ronnie Spector, Kris Kristofferson and Joe Ely plus some white-hot blues from Paul Rodgers, Joe Louis Walker and Willie Deville. Now, I’m not a student of early rock and roll, so I won’t waste our time fumbling around for a terse eulogy that talks about Blackwell’s influence on music. He wrote some terrific rock and roll songs that drew heavily from the blues, had the interesting habit of comparing love to an illness (“Paralyzed,” “Breathless,” “Fever,” “All Shook Up”) and, in an era dominated by white rock musicians, made a good living making great music. The musicians assembled for Brace Yourself don’t seem much interested in a reverent history lesson either; starting off with “Paralyzed” by Graham Parker all but throws off the rose-colored glasses and grinds them into the ground. Frank Black’s “Breathless” and Jon Spencer’s “All Shook Up” (comically confused with the Kris Kristofferson version on the CD’s track listing) are perfectly profane. The trouble with these tracks is hearing them and yet not hearing them because you’ve heard them so many times before. Amazingly, Black’s “Handyman” and Tom Verlaine’s “Fever” find yet another angle from which to view these sacred relics. And then there are the explosive blues performances from Paul Rodgers, Willie Deville and Joe Louis Walker. I don’t particularly enjoy the blues, but you’d have to be one shaved cat not to feel your hair stand on end when they torch up “Home In Your Heart,” “On That Power Line” and “Daddy Rolling Stone.” The trouble with a tribute album like this is its variety. Some of it’s straight, some of it’s twisted, and to untangle all of it every time is work. Honestly, the future of Brace Yourself may be in bits and pieces that are appended to the respective artists’ oeuvre over the years, such as tacking “Handyman” on as a bonus track to Teenager of the Year.

TRACK LISTING

  1. Graham Parker: PARALYZED   
  2. Chrissie Hynde & Chris Spedding: HEY LITTLE BOY (LITTLE GIRL)   
  3. Paul Rodgers: HOME IN YOUR HEART   
  4. Frank Black & The Stax Pistols: BREATHLESS   
  5. The Smithereens: LET'S TALK ABOUT US   
  6. Tom Verlaine: FEVER   
  7. Joe Louis Walker: ON THAT POWER LINE   
  8. Deborah Harry: DON'T BE CRUEL   
  9. Jon Spencer: ALL SHOOK UP   
  10. Frank Black: HANDYMAN   
  11. Joe Ely/Sue Foley with Sarah Brown & Marcia Ball: GREAT BALLS OF FIRE   
  12. Ronnie Spector: BRACE YOURSELF   
  13. Willie Deville: DADDY ROLLING STONE
  14. Kris Kristofferson: ALL SHOOK UP   

CREDITS

KENNY AARONSON -- bass, background vocals, claps
JIMMY DESTRI -- organ, piano, fingersnaps, background vocals, claps
STEVE FERRONE -- drums, fingersnaps
CHRIS SPEDDING -- guitars, vocals (2)
THE UPTOWN HORNS -- horn arrangements
  Richie Cannata -- tenor sax
  Crispin Cioe -- baritone sax, the lone arranger
  Larry Etkin -- trumpet
  Bob Funk -- trombone
  Arno Hecht -- tenor sax
Tim Alexander -- piano (11)
Marcia Ball -- piano (11)
Frank Black -- vocals, rhythm guitar
Sarah Brown -- bass guitar & associate producer (11)
Johnny Colla -- background vocals (1), additional engineering
Steve Cropper -- lead guitar, vocal harmony
Jol Dantzig -- background vocals
Willie Deville -- vocals (13)
Dave Edmunds -- all vocals & instruments (14)
Ira Sebastian Elliot -- claps (5)
Joe Ely -- vocals (11 )
Sue Foley -- lead guitar (11)
Randall Grass -- fingersnaps (6), executive producer
Deborah Harry -- vocals & claps (8)
Chrissie Hynde -- vocals (2)
Kris Kristofferson -- vocals, harp & acoustic guitar (15)
Kenny Margolis -- piano, vocals & claps (5)
Glen Matlock -- vocals (4)
May Pang-Visconti -- background vocals & claps (8), production assistant
Graham Parker -- lead and background vocals (1)
Paul Rodgers -- vocals (3)
The Smithereens -- (5)
  Jim Babjak -- lead guitar, backing vocals
  Dennis Diken -- drums, claps
  Pat DiNizio -- lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  Mike Mesaros -- bass
Ronnie Spector -- vocals (12)
Jon Spencer -- vocals & lead guitar (9)
Jon Tiven -- background vocals, guitars, organ
Sally Tiven -- background vocals, claps, production assistant
Tom Verlaine -- vocals & lead guitar (6)
Tony Visconti -- background vocals, fingersnaps, claps, mix engineer
Joe Louis Walker -- vocals & lead guitar (7)
Lyle Workman -- background vocals (1)
Jimmy Douglass -- recording engineer, overdub engineer
Joe Johnson -- overdub engineer
F. Campbell -- additional engineering
Jason Eyers -- additional engineering
Chris Shepard -- additional engineering
Raymond Ross -- photography
R. Wayne Martin -- front cover concept
Joan Pelosi -- booklet design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US February 21, 1994 Shanachie CD 5702  

 

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