Eagle Vision/Universal Music Group
DVD Produced and Directed by Joss Crowley
2CD+DVD Running Time: approximately 111 Minutes
DVD 9, 16:9 Screen Format, DTS Digital Surround Sound, Dolby Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo
Release Date: March 31, 2015
2. Out of Touch
3. Say It Isn’t So
4. Family Man
5. It’s Uncanny
6. Back Together Again
7. Las Vegas Turnaround
8. She’s Gone
9. Sara Smile
10. Do What You Want, Be What You Are
11. I Can’t go For That (No Can Do)
12. Rich Girl
13. You Make My Dreams
14. Kiss On My List
15. Private Eyes
Eagle Vision and Universal Music Group‘s new DVD/2 CD package Hall and Oates: Live in Dublin chronicles the duo’s first gig in the titular city’s Olympia Theater. Played to a sold out house, it was a great show to document. Not only is the setting intimate and beautiful but the Dubliners are an effusive and collaborative audience, singing along from stem to stern, making for a really engaging viewing and listening experience.
The 15 song set is a smart mix of crowd pleasers and more obscure material that spans the band’s history and puts a fresh spin on familiar hits. Fortunately Hall and Oates’ catalog is very malleable – ripe for rearrangement – meaning many of the kitschier studio embellishments found on the 80’s hits are eschewed for polished funky presentations that highlight the songs’ “evergreen” status. It also ensures that H&O don’t become a “cover band” of themselves.
Daryl Hall and John Oates’ stock in trade has been a palpable sincerity conveyed in the smooth soul crooning of their breakout tune “She’s Gone” through even the pop-iest of their mega-hits like “Kiss Is On My List.” It’s a believability that’s rooted in their vocal group tenure in the early days of the Philadelphia PA music scene that producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff eventually forged into TSOP: The Sound of Philadelphia. It’s exemplified in H&O tunes like “Sara Smile” and “Do What You Want, Be What You Are.” Both are represented on Live In Dublin in fine fashion. “Sara Smile” is all feel, Daryl announces it as “…the truth, plain and simple.” It’s a worthy successor to The Impressions. The deep soul of “Do What You Want…” gets an extended airing that features a fun solo duel between senior band member saxophonist Charlie DeChant and newest player guitarist Shane Theriot before it seamlessly slides into “I Can’t Go for That.” Theriot favors a scooped lead sound that cuts through the three guitar front line. He’s a fine improvisor who is also willing to replicate a studio solo when it’s a song’s melodic hallmark, as in “Private Eyes.”
The duo has always had a knack for finding great musicians for their stage bands from the very start. In the past members have included drummers Jerry Marotta and Mickey Curry, Elton’s Caleb Quaye, Peter Frampton’s “Alive” cohort Bob Mayo, Utopia’s Kasim Sulton and John Siegler and SNL’s house guitarist G.E. Smith and Bassist the late “T-Bone” Wolk. These are formidable shoes to fill but the current line-up is exceptional in their own right and they are deservedly highlighted in a bonus feature that offers a bit of biography on each member. Almost all of them are multi-instrumentalists, with the core players, including drummer Brian Dunne, coming from the Average White Band, and percussionist Porter Carroll Jr. having led Atlantic Starr. Along with their playing, background vocals are stellar from the staccato “watch out’s” in set opener “Maneater” to the “are watching you’s” on second encore closer “Private Eyes.”
My bottom line benchmark for any purchase is the level of likelihood I’ll return to the piece after the initial watch. Hall and Oates: Live in Dublin has been a pleasure to repeat spin for the purposes of this review, and will continue to be top of the heap for replay for some time to come. If you’re only interested in the video content I suggest you grab the BluRay, although the standard DVD looks very good up-sampled on my Playstation 3.
What’s missing? Well, I’m one of the oddballs who counts the Todd Rundgren produced War Babies album as a favorite, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for “Beanie G and the Rose Tattoo” to show up in a set list any time soon. That is unless some hipster record bin crawlers decide War Babies is H&O’s great lost Pet Sounds. Hmm… sounds like a Twitter crusade in the making. See hashtag above.
On Back In Time singer Judith Hill offers a unique and idiosyncratic group of performances that distance her from her back up singer roots. Featured prominently in the Academy Award winning documentary 20 Steps from Stardom Hill’s segment typified the predicament and pitfalls of trying to move from a reasonably stable career providing support vocals for “stars” to shouldering a spotlight position of her own. Before that she had seen a major tour and possible springboard for solo recognition evaporate with the untimely passing of Michael Jackson. Her extensive rehearsals with the “King of Pop” appear in the film This Is It. Hill also tried the TV competition route with a stint on The Voice in 2013. Although garnering her nationwide attention it did not produce the hoped for star turn.
Fortunately in the past year Hill came to the attention of Prince and the “always a bridesmaid” situation changed. A few weeks of recording at the Minneapolis Music Maharajah’s Paisley Park studio has yielded a sterling setting for her talents. The album has a tight modern sound but as one might expect from the title and production by a stylistic sponge like Prince there is also a deep awareness of musical heritage.
The opening track “As Trains Go By” is laden with vinyl “rice krispies” and a throaty distorted vocal that could have been sampled from a 1930’s field recording. That said, lyrical content is cutting edge with references to specifics of recent racial tensions warning “While Martin sleeps Brother Malcolm is awake” leavened only by the chorus “Like CeeLo Green in a sea of red lights, might as well be famous, since I ain’t gonna be white,” which cannot help but produce a grin. “Trains” and second tune “Turn Up” set the stage with funky pocket grooves, lots of unison singing and “character” voices, reminiscent of likely benchmark Sly and The Family Stone.
Though each song can stand on its own merit, the excellent track sequencing ultimately makes for a better complete listening experience than a “needle drop” excursion. There’s even an old school crossfade as the jaunty lope and thunky low end of “Cure” (think “Penny Lane” period Beatles) slides into the rainy day dream jazz of “Love Trip.” “Angel In The Dark” is a spare groove with angular electro-string hooks and a radio ready chorus ripe for multiple remixes. “Cry, Cry, Cry” presents a sophisticated mid-century blues complete with bee-sting purple lead guitar lines. “Beautiful Life” is spun off a delicate piano vamp and wrapped in a rich arrangement. It has a delicious Gladys Knight vibe and I’d love to hear it performed live. “Wild Tonight” and “Jammin’ in the Basement” will ably hip check “Uptown Funk” in your current party mixes.
A session singer’s stock in trade is as invisible mortar for a lead vocalist’s sonic structure. On “Back In Time” we finally hear who Judith Hill actually is, in her own voice. It’s an exciting, enjoyable, and refreshing revelation and these tracks smartly stay focused on that vocal personality.
Even the infamous Joker has his hands full when the ladies of DC comics get their own line of collectibles. The company’s Bombshells statues have recast their fantasy heroines and villainesses in the style of 1940’s pinups. Artist Ant Lucia began creating these vivacious calendar girls for DC Collectibles back in 2012. The first in the series, a “Rosie the Riveter” style Wonder Woman, set the tone, with Supergirl and Poison Ivy carrying on the lineage of artists like Gil Elvgren, George Petty and Alberto Vargas. Since then DC Comics has joined in the fun with a run of Bombshells variant covers. The group of sexy sirens has grown to include a revved up Stargirl and rock-a-billy Black Canary who might be belting out Wanda Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama.”
Later this year Batgirl gets to swing for the far wall in a baseball card themed statue taken directly from a DC variant cover, while Lois Lane in paperboy attire will hawk the Daily Planet. Also in waiting is a very sophisticated Catwoman in a very little black dress, and Harley Quinn in a deluxe edition covers a hapless and helpless Joker in crimson smooches.
Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams…
The popular line expands into other merchandising areas with the announcement of branded blankets and robes. A recent press release reports that “Ant Lucia’s classic pin-up style artwork of DC Comics’ super-heroines continues to grace the DC Bombshells Satin Robes from Underboss and blankets from The NorthWest Company! The exclusive Harley Quinn robe features a two-toned red and black coloring with playing card diamonds on the front and a high-spirited Harley holding her trusty pistol on the back. Alternately you might choose to “get comfortable and curl up with your very own DC Comics Bombshell Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman tapestry blanket! Each blanket measures 46″x60″, is made of soft acrylic, and carries vivid detail of everyone’s favorite Queen Clown Harley Quinn or Can-Do Wonder Woman…”
You can find those exclusives on order through the March issue Diamond’s Previews catalog.
Click this link for a revealing look at the genesis of the DC Collectibles Bombshells line.
Beach Blanket Blood Feud…
I have to admit I wasn’t sure if we were all being punked when Dark Horse first sent out news of this book, but Archie Versus Predator is nearly here.
The title tells you everything you need to know. If you surmise it’s ridiculous fun in every way you get the picture. Spring Break, bikini contests, girl fights, Costa Rican jungles, and buckets of blood. A proud sibling to Horror of Party Beach (1964) and Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966). Pop on a Los Straitjackets album and enjoy the ride.
The first issue of this 4 part series is on the stands April 15, 2015.
Somebody start writing the screenplay quick. I want to be sure I live long enough to see the movie adaptation.
What It Is…
Your Thursday evenings may require musical cartography skills if the folks at Greenwich House Music School (GHMS) have their way. Last year the over century old establishment cast an ear to the past with a series of shows that paid homage to the Café Au Go Go. That venue shared a neighborhood – New York City’s West Village – with the music school through most of the 1960’s. Hosting an array of performers from Lenny Bruce to Cream, the Café has achieved legendary status.
This time around the GHMS 8 week community concert series is titled Uncharted and aimed at exploration of parts unknown. Concert curator Jennie Wasserman, Associate Artistic Producer at San Francisco’s SFJAZZ, asked each of the featured artists to direct their performances to areas of their artistry that would normally not get aired. The relaxed living room vibe of the music school’s Renee Weiler Concert Hall, and an audience most likely predisposed to new experiences, certainly offers the “safe place to take risks” that Wasserman hopes to establish.
What Went On…
On opening night harpist Brandee Younger was introduced by GHMS director Rachel Black who noted the GHMS faculty member’s impressive résumé, ranging from traditional jazz to hip-hop and pop. Younger, along with pianist Courtney Bryan and harpist Mia Theodoratus, took up the series’ challenge and skewed her set into the “discomfort zone.” Material included a piece by Younger so new it was yet to be titled, an Alice Coltrane cover, and work being prepped by Bryan for Prophetika, An Oratorio which will have its official debut at La MaMa later this month.
Midway through the set, the harp duet “Orbits” offered delicate intertwining melodies that passed each other in purposefully loose meter. Composer Theodoratus prefaced the song’s first performance by explaining that she and Younger would be working off tiny LED blinker boxes, each set to a different tempo, an experiment that successfully evinced the elliptical nature of planetary travel. The boxes were scratch built by artist and musician Lary 7, who also recorded Theodoratus’s most recent album Electric Silver, released on Plastikville Records last October. Seven is himself the subject of a recent documentary Not Junk Yet, The Art of Lary 7, directed by Danielle de Picciotto.
In addition to the performance on stage, pen and ink artist Michael Arthur chronicled the event for GHMS archives and will continue to do so throughout the series. Keep an eye on his daily blog for Uncharted updates.
What’s To Come…
The GHMS Uncharted series promises to be a one of a kind experience. Concerts continue every Thursday evening through April 30, 2015 and the full line-up can be found here.