Live at Montreux 1976 DVD
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Blues Wax 8
Reader Rating 8
Stuff This DVD Into Your Player, (10/07/08))
It's hard for me to believe that it's taken over thirty years for this funky Stuff DVD from Montreux to make its first ever appearance, we should be thankful as Stuff's music was born during one of the last eras of instrumental Soul-Funk music, which is a complete delight to behold and see. Stuff is comprised of top-level session players of their day, most of whom have solo albums credited to their names. The two great guitarists are the deceased Eric Gale, who was Quincy Jones' guitarist of choice, and Cornell Dupree, who graced hundred's of sessions and was most revered as an integral member of Aretha Franklin's and King Curtis' heyday's at Atlantic. Add to the mix the great Richard Tee (also deceased) on keyboards, the dynamic drumming of Steve Gadd, Gordon Edwards' popping bass, and what you have here is one finely-honed unit that effectively fires on all cylinders at all times with minimum miscues and impeccable timing! And let's not forget about their Soul, deep Soul affection, and sweet Funk.
A brief history: Stuff made some albums, six in fact, for Warner Brothers: Stuff, More Stuff, Live Stuff, Stuff It, Live in Japan, and Live in New York, which were all released from 1976-1980. So after a twenty-eight-year hiatus, and courtesy of Eagle Records we not only get a DVD to watch and listen to, but we also get a companion CD that has twelve of the thirteen tracks that are available on the DVD.
Check out the band all dressed in their red Stuff T-shirts (I need one of those T's!) and listen to this band boil through the opening "Foots," written by the band, which fires into Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" where Steve Gadd mightily gets his first, short solo workout on drums, which segues into something they call "Stuff's Stuff," where Richard Tee delivers his first solo on keys and sets the tone by fueling the band as they catch fire as Gale explodes on guitar. And just like that the entire band is roaring!
Other highlights include the exceptionally soulful cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World," where guitarists Gale and Dupree complement each other so caringly. Earth, Wind & Fire's classic cover melds into Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright" and Stuff is off and flying again, especially Gale whose scorching solos ignite the band to even loftier heights. Richard Tee takes us to church on the traditional "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which tastefully segues into Edwin Hawkins' "Oh, Happy Day" when Odetta joins the band, but her stay is brief, as bassist Edwards hand-gestures to Stuff's members as if to say "Lets jam." So Tee takes another Gospel-like piano solo, which sets the tone for the band to liftoff again and do they ever slam the pedal to the metal! Then Edwards plucks the bass lines to their signature "Ode to Stuff," where Gale solos his butt off and Gadd is one mighty machine. The set concludes, but the crowd demands more, and gets it. The encore starts softly with Billy Preston/Billy Fisher's "You Are So Beautiful," which melds into Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman," and the band starts percolating yet again. A short yet intense drum solo by Gadd kicks into the closing "Do It Again" (not to be confused with other versions as this "Do It Again" is authored by Stuff bassist Gordon Edwards).
So there you have it, highly recommended listening and viewing. Additionally, I could not find any other videos of this extremely talented band anywhere, so if you dig the Stuff groove, go for this video capture of one of best well-kept secrets of the Seventies. Stuff this disc in to your DVD player and crank up the volume!
Bob Putignano is a contributing editor at BluesWax. You may contact Bob at: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: www.SoundsofBlue.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com