Friday, June 30, 2017
The Pat Travers Band - Live at the Warfield - San Francisco (1980)
Canadian hard rocker Pat Travers became known to the masses in America after the release of his 1979 concert LP Live! Go For What You Know. The album contained the FM radio staple "Boom Boom (Out Goes the Lights),"* which also became a minor pop hit, getting to #56.
Travers had put out four studio LPs before Live! Go For What You Know, and while they were good, his live album was a cut above any of them. The music had tons more energy and Travers' songs worked better when given a looser feel. That's also the case with this bootleg, which contains a full Travers gig taped on May 25, 1980 at San Francisco's Warfield concert hall. This was out on some of the other music blogs a long time ago, but it's since disappeared, so I'm bringing it back.
What makes both this recording and Live! Go For What You Know so exciting are the dual lead guitars featured throughout, done by two Pats: Travers and Thrall. From 1978 to 1980, Travers' band included a second lead guitarist, Pat Thrall. As I've written elsewhere, the juxtaposition of Travers' bluesy wailing and Thrall's metal shredding was one of those rare combinations that works perfectly. When the two played together, sparks flew. Shame it didn't last longer.
This basic recording might be familiar to at least some Travers fans because it got a brief release three years ago under the title Snortin' Whiskey at the Warfield. However, it was only put out in a limited edition of 2000 copies in that form, so not too many people got to hear it.
This bootleg actually pre-dates that release, plus it includes an extra song, the opening number, "Rock and Roll Susie." More importantly, this version has a far better mix, at least in my opinion. It emphasizes Tommy Aldridge's rock solid drumming and the sound is much less compressed.
The bad news is that the rip that I have here was taken from a copy of the bootleg that had some scratches. This isn't really evident during most of the songs, but you can hear it at some points when the music cuts out, like during the between-song announcements. Still, a few ticks and pops are a minor pox on a major document of a fantastic hard rock concert from the classic rock era.
Travers was more a traditionalist than a pioneer, but what he did he did very well. He and his band performed unpretentious, no frills bluesy rock with a muscular edge. It's a continuation of the style developed by the early Allman Brothers and Humble Pie as opposed to a precursor to what would come in the '80s. But since a lot of '80s rock tended to be overproduced and a bit too pop-oriented, Travers music, like that of the Allmans, has aged extremely well. This sizzling live show provides a good example as to why.
* "Boom Boom (Out Goes The Lights)" (as opposed to "Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights) is the way Travers spelled the title out on his live album and the way Little Walter spelled it on the original single, even though Walter didn't include the last four words in parenthesis. Conversely, on the single release by Travers, the title was written as "Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)." The original Little Walter 45 also included a comma between each word "Boom," but Travers has never included the comma. Just thought everyone would want all that straightened out, because I know we all live to split hairs over grammar in song titles.
The Pat Travers Band - BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert (1980)
The Nighthawks - The Nighthawks (1980)
Humble Pie - The Scrubbers Sessions (1997)
1. Rock And Roll Susie
2. Hooked On Music
3. Gettin' Betta
4. (Your Love) Can't Be Right
5. Life In London
6. Snortin' Whiskey
8. Born Under A Bad Sign
9. Boom Boom (Out Goes The Lights)
10. Crash And Burn
11. The Big Event
13. Statesboro Blues