Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: Paul McCartney - Good Evening New York City

Label: Hear Music

Released: November 17, 2009

In this decade, Paul McCartney has released as many live albums as he has studio albums. Even packaged with a DVD, Good Evening New York City, his third live release since 2002's Back in the US, begs the question, "Why another live album?" It doesn't take the album long to answer though.

Despite McCartney's late-career studio renaissance, his live albums have remained lackluster. Good Evening New York City finally rights that wrong with a live document as fresh as his recent material and as new as the venue itself (this was Citi Field's first concert). The set is very Beatles-heavy (nearly two-thirds of the material comes from the Fab Four days), but also includes a fair helping of recent material (including "Sing the Changes" from his Fireman side-project). What's happily missing is the saccharine sap that made up much of Macca's career from the mid-70s through the late 80s. You got it, no "Silly Love Songs," no "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," no "Coming Up." (Okay, "My Love" made the cut, but nothing's perfect, right?) Though the Beatles' classics need no overhaul, McCartney re-energizes them with fresh arrangements and youthful enthusiasm. That makes all the difference being playing old songs and playing songs like an old man. McCartney chooses the former and all these years later, both he and the songs can still get me excited. Fantastic!

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 9/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

DVD: Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready?

Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Released: November 10, 2009

Are You Ready? finds the great Thin Lizzy in 1981, on tour for the less-than-great Renegade album. It also features guitarist Snowy White who, by his own admission, never felt suited to Thin Lizzy's hard rock sound and lifestyle. One would think this would add up to a disjointed and/or disenchanted performance, but nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever ills they suffered in the studio, they had exorcised them in the live show, sinking their teeth into old and new songs alike. Perhaps the band's best trait is their ability to understand and convey the energy of their songs, whether high-energy rockers or lower-key ballads, and it's completely evident here.

The concert was originally filmed for German television and the resulting video quality isn't the best (think second generation VHS copy), but the audio is fantastic. It's a perfect mix of fidelity and energy that meets the standards of the best live recordings. Sonically at least, that's what Thin Lizzy deserves and what this DVD delivers.

Rating: 8/10

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