Photos and Story by HEATHER HARRIS
We saw the return of legendary British vocalist TERRY REID to McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Santa Monica for a solo “storyteller” format he first pioneered at that same venue in 2010. His nonstop 2 hour set featured personal favorite original and cover selections alongside amusing anecdotes of popstar life in the Swingin’ ’60s and beyond. Best of all, the famous voice was in even better fettle than when I photographed him but a few years ago.
He proved a great raconteur in the play a little, talk a little configuration. Stories included an amazingly generous, impromptu gesture to one particular audience by his late friend Steve Marriott of The Small Faces, despite the latter’s loony raver reputation, also ruminations of recording methods of staunchly solo accompaniment morphing into doubts of adding ever-growing orchestrations.
By eschewing his actual chart hits from his worldclass rockstar days, a far more wonderful window was opened to his unique mind and artistry, like some fanciful visit to Terry Land. Playing assorted guitars from his collection including a truly giant Hofner acoustic one (this “monster” he explained via early 1960s British economic trade accommodations) dating from when Reid was 15 years old, he zeroed in on many with ‘moving bodies of water’ imagery including those from his The River release. “Seed Of Memory” from its eponymous album remained a standout.
Most intriguing was his choice of unusual covers, suitable only for major vocalists like his own bad self such as Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe,” (the 1958 hit, not the 1927 Showboat tune by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein); the ballad “Scarlet Ribbons” first recorded by Jo Stafford in 1949 and later popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1952 plus by proto-pop/country band The Browns 1959; and the still astonishing for a Beach Boys 1964 hit “Don’t Worry Baby” (by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian) with its teen angst lyrics like “Well its been building up inside of me for I don’t know how long/ I don’t know why but I keep thinking something’s bound to go wrong… Oh what she does to me/when she makes love to me/ And she says ‘Don’t worry baby…’ ”
This was a great showcase of Terry Reid’s talent, and I hope it presages many more opportunities at same for him. You’re not seeing a lot of my photographs due to the acoustic nature of the show and my professional concessions to same. My friend Evita next to me claimed she was completely unaware of my ever snapping a shutter at all, since I know that during acoustic performances I should only take pics during loud guitar downstrokes or loudly sung notes. Anything else is unfair to both performer and audience.