Week 34: Front Row Center Pt. 1
I’ve been on the fence for weeks about my next offering, but after some serious thought (and a raised eyebrow from our fearless leader), I decided to just go with my gut, so here goes…
I’ve always been a concert-goer. Nothing beats being in the audience at a large concert hall (or even a dingy hole in the wall bar) to see my favourite artists do their thing on the stage. In my 40 years, I’ve seen my fair share of shows. In fact, some artists I’ve seen an excessive number of times. One of my all time favourite concert bands, Gov’t Mule, I’ve seen at least 25 times, just a little over a two weeks ago in fact, they came back to my neck of the woods… Some artists I know I need to see before I depart this life and some artists I will sadly never see because they departed this life. In any event, since I know I can’t see them all, I sometimes rely on the purchase of a live album to fill the void so with your indulgence, I have one seriously rare performance to lay on you so let’s spend An Evening With Diana Ross!
The time is September 1976. The place is the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. This is a few excerpts from the tour which was in support of the self-titled album that yielded the successful single “Theme from Mahogany” and of course, the Disco anthem “Love Hangover”. Now it’s fair to say that this particular performance resembles a Broadway type atmosphere which may have some of you asking “why the hell is he posting this”, but seriously, kids, this is one cool performance, with the arrangement duties being overseen by Gil Askey, who has seen his fair share of work for Motown. Most notable is the bulk of concert albums that the Motown elite produced back in the glory years, as well as providing the incidental music for the stunning film “Lady Sings The Blues” (nice run-on sentences… I hope my English professor isn’t reading this post). It’s also important to note that the trio of background singers is the Jones Girls, who later gave us Quiet Storm staples such as “You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else” and “Nights Over Egypt”… I had to throw that in there for a little extra incentive.
The show as a whole has some great moments, including the obligatory medley of Motown standards, but what really sticks out in my mind is “The Point”, a lovely story that Ms. Ross apparently used to tell to her oldest daughter Rhonda back in the day*. It may sound silly, but there is a not-so subtle message to be heard there. I am also enamoured of the slightly psychedelic tinge that the core rhythm section brought to the table which until just recently I never knew existed. As far as the overall compilation value goes, it may seem a little disjointed in spots, but for the most part you have a fairly clear picture of what it was like to be in the audience at a Diana Ross concert back when it really meant something.
Thankfully, scoring a copy of the vinyl isn’t that tough as there are a few reasonably priced copies available. The CD on the other hand will require a little; check that, a LOT more change! Either way, it’s an investment that shouldn’t disappoint.
Still not sure? Have a look at this:
Well, there you have it. I got one more childhood memory out of my system… like it or not. I could easily share a couple more of my favourite live joints if it pleases you; I’m sure I could find a few gems lurking among the stash. Thanks and praises once again goes to my beloved uncles for making me hear this record ad nauseum as a kid, and subsequently donating their respective copies of the vinyl to me so that I can in turn share them with you. With all that said, it’s time to go and rip some more… until the next time, have fun(k), and as always, please be safe.
Peace and blessings!
*Laf’s note: Ahem, Vincent! The Point is a wickedly wonderful story (and animated TV movie) by Harry Nilsson from 1971, about a little roundheaded boy called Oblio and his dog Arrow, living in a world of pointy heads – all of it accompanied by fantastic Beatlesque music. Funny enough, I remember the psychedelic TV-animation being narrated by Dustin Hoffman, but when I copped the VHS release, it was narrated by Ringo Starr! And on the Harry Nilsson LP “The Point” from the same year, Harry does the storytelling all by himself. Click here for a sentimental review of the movie and some preview clips…for more information, just google it! 🙂