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OU812
10-04-2002, 10:52 PM
THANKS TO JOHN BANKS FOR SENDING IT TO ME.
Randy Jackson Solo Concert in Dallas – September 28, 2002
Poor David’s Pub – Greenville, Ave.

The world is filled with artists who never achieve the fame that some of their “less deserving” brethren experience. Rarely has a group or a singer been overlooked to the degree that Zebra and it’s lead singer, Randy Jackson has been over the last 25 years. After 3 studio albums and 1 live recording on Atlantic records in the 80’s, Zebra was assigned to the “Where are they now?” category of rockers and placed in the category of “Heavy Metal/Hard Rock” of the 80’s. This writing off and categorization of a group as talented as Zebra has been a terrible mistake in the eyes of fans that have been loyal to them for many years.

Zebra has finished recording a new album that is scheduled for release in March 2003. Randy Jackson, guitarist and singer in the trio created a second group called China Rain in the early 90’s when Zebra went on hiatus and then started touring on his own or with the other members of Zebra (Felix Hanneman and Guy Gelso). Randy has also been actively involved in singing with various orchestras around the US with the music of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. This night in Dallas, Randy was on his own in an intimate club with nothing but his voice and a 12-string guitar to keep his fans entertained.

His performance was filled with songs he had written in Zebra and in the artists that had the most influence on him as a songwriter: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie. He magically weaved songs into amazing medleys that displayed a sense of adventure and wonder to everyone listening. You could never be sure where his forays into his catalog and his roots would lead. He could start out with a tender ballad and bring in a roaring rocker and return to the original, serene song with a sudden burst of creative energy.

Optimistically, Randy performed songs that will be appearing on the new Zebra release that showcased some of the metaphysical, questing lyrics that distinguished Zebra early in their career. Songs titled “Who Am I?” and “Why” asked questions of what is our place in the universe and where can we find the answers for these questions. Just as on the first Zebra album songs like “Who’s Behind the Door?” or “Time,” asked similar questions about the meaning of the life in a very melodic and poetic way.

Another new song called “Arabian Nights” was also performed and to hear Randy play a hard driving Middle Eastern rhythm akin to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” on an ACOUSTIC guitar was amazing. “Bears”, a particular crowd favorite from Zebra’s old repertoire was also performed. This song was one of several with environmental/animal-friendly lyrics that dedicated vegetarian Randy wrote.

Another fan at this show saw Zebra when they started in New Orleans said that he had never heard Led Zeppelin sound as good in concert on their own songs as when Randy and Co. played them. I cannot vouch for that since I’ve never seen the original Zeppelin in concert, but Randy can sound as impressive as singer Robert Plant and play Jimmy Page’s familiar but tricky guitar parts at the same time! He played little-known Zeppelin gems like “Ten Years Gone”, “Tangerine” and “Thanks” as well as the classics you can hear on any rock station. My wife was very misty eyed after the beautiful ballad “Thanks” was over. He also did the acoustically minded “Rain Song” and “Babe, I’m Going to Leave You”. To my amazement, Randy was able to put the very violently strummed and sung “Immigrant Song” about Viking plunderers into the wistful paean to the open road called “Over the Hills and Far Away” and have it fit like a hand in glove.

Randy also performed the Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” medley of “Brain Damage/Eclipse” with the requisite menace required about “…the lunatics are on the grass…” and “….there’s someone in my head and it’s not me….”. He also did a spot-on version of David Bowie’s early classic “Space Oddity (Major Tom)” which I admit I had to do the hand claps loudly when they were needed.

The Beatles were obviously very important to Randy and he performed a number of great songs. He movingly did two songs primarily associated with George Harrison: “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He had seen Paul McCartney in concert the night before, so he was definitely inspired to perform more Beatle songs than I had heard him perform in prior concerts. His take on “The Long and Winding Road” would’ve made Sir Paul proud.

John Lennon was probably the most influential Beatle on Randy however and he was moved to write a song called “Lullaby” about him after he was killed in New York in 1980. He performed John’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” with lovely flourishes on his guitar and “In My Life” with utter sincerity. One highlight of the evening was Randy’s rendition of “A Day in the Life”. This is probably the most artistically amazing Beatle track from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and was played by the Fab Four with 3 pianos, horns and a 40-piece orchestra. Randy was able to “duplicate” this expansive sound with just his guitar and his voice to an amazing degree! The two orchestral “freak out” sections were played in an ascending riff on the guitar with his voice singing a counter melody on top (a device he used in several songs where an electric guitar solo might have gone). It was truly a masterful performance.

The pinnacle performance of the evening though was the medley of “Stairway to Heaven” and the COMPLETE Beatle “Abbey Road” suite from the album’s B-side. Jackson started out the gentle finger picking of the classic “Stairway” and sang the first 3 verses, he then hit a chord that led him to “Because” from “Abbey Road”. Randy sang all 20 plus minutes of the last side of the last studio album the Beatles completed. The brief snippets of Lennon’s more cynical and playful songs with Paul’s more melodic and meaningful lyrics were reproduced with loving precision. Again, he was able to sound like a “band” with just his guitar and his voice. The only thing he could not reproduce was the lovely harmonies on some of the sections. Finally, “The End” led back to “Stairway” and he finished it with Plant’s howling vocals and Page’s strongly strummed rhythm.

To finish it off, his final salute to this Texan audience was a performance of a song he had just recently been learning: “Life by the Drop” by Lone Star legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. He had a bit of a hard time playing it correctly at first and he forgot the lyrics but he asked the audience to sing it and he got the guitar licks down well enough that I told him later that we’ll have to start calling him “Randy Earl Jackson” in honor of his Texas bluesman credentials.

4 hours of music performed by one man with an encyclopedic memory and the pipes and chops to pull it off! It was probably the most amazing concert I’ve had the pleasure to attend.

janet
10-05-2002, 07:25 AM
Does anyone know who this review was written by?

J.B.
10-05-2002, 04:57 PM
Written by a guy named Ron who posts here as "ronbo 11"

ZEBRAFREAK
10-06-2002, 12:46 AM
awesome interview!!!!!! we'll have to get abbey road from him tomorrow!!!

MrBungle
10-06-2002, 12:52 AM
kudos, most definitely, this guy should be a candidate for liner notes!

Ought to slip a copy into a custom bootleg cover or something!

Don Wishon
10-06-2002, 08:04 PM
This great review was written by my good friend Ron Dempesmeier. And to think that Ron wrote this from memory and did not take any notes during the show. Randy did send a response to Ron this week, informing him that he did actually end his final medley of songs with The Beatles' "The End" AFTER "Stairway to Heaven". An incredible evening of music from an incredibly gifted performer! I will post the official setlist when I get an opportunity.

Don

LessPaull
10-06-2002, 11:56 PM
My Man Totally Nails "THE ACOUSTIC RANDY JACKSON"...NUFF SAID !!

OU812
10-11-2002, 04:04 PM
RIGHT ON THE HEAD

mark
10-11-2002, 04:27 PM
Thats Long! I should of taken them Evelyn Wood classes!

Sue
10-11-2002, 05:59 PM
Boy Mark...you sure did date yourself! Evelyn Wood classes? My mom took them about 20-25 years ago.