Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The Most Underrated Performer of His Generation?
Considering the decade or so from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, perhaps one performer should stand as an icon of the era. Sadly, that icon is little discussed (and perhaps little respected). Johnny Rivers, who had a string of hits that include: "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Curious Mind," "Help Me Rhonda," "Look to Your Soul," "Maybelline," "Memphis," "Midnight Special," "Mountain of Love," "Poor Side of Town", "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," "Sea Cruise," "Secret Agent Man," "Seventh Son," "Slow Dancin'," "Summer Rain," "Tracks of My Tears," and "Where Have All The Flowers Gone," was a recording giant for a time. Today, he is all but forgotten in the annals of popular music.
Perhaps, some might say, that is because he had the innate ability to make every one of his songs sound like a cut-rate cover of some other song, but I would disagree. Rivers' "White Boy Blues" sort of style is sometimes a bit less than genuine, but for me, it works. The Michael Bolton of his time, some would argue. I might not disagree. But, you have to admire an original. And Johnny Rivers was a true original.
And, taken at face value, the lyrics to "Summer Rain" make for an eerily fitting coda to the era.
Check him out next summer at a state fair near you. He's probably opening for Joan Jett.