+ Live In Central Park
1995: RCA/BMG 74321331632
Live in Central Park [9 September 1995]:
This album hits me unevenly, never quite coming across to me as a very good one overall but also not actively turning me off. I guess its because the sum of my reactions to each track doesnt amount to a cumulative delight, plus which no track stands out to me as stunning (as I have come to expect of Lennox over the years, both before and since this album). That said, I can listen to any track on the album and say Yeah, I like that! very easily.
If I had to call out favorites, though, Id change my answer from month to month and year to year. For example, No More I Love Yous got played a LOT on the radio in the mid-1990s, so that opening/closing vocal motif got old real quick and I kind of shut it out of my mind so I wouldnt burn out on it further but decades later I find I can hear it again and appreciate it happily. (Although she didnt do much more with it than The Lover Speaks did in the original recording, it must be noted.) That the video was such lovely dark fun, overtones and all, doesnt hurt the songs lasting ability to impress.
Both Train in Vain and I Cant Get Next to You I like, although Lennox does sound rather like a white girl singing Soul at times there. That may be due to the rather safe/bland instrumental arrangement, which lacks any thrill or pizazz (I suspect this would have been rectified by balancing efforts by Dave Stewart were these Eurythmics tracks). Train in Vain does build well, though, and she certainly can strut the vocal groove even if its within a slightly antiseptic vehicle.
I was going to say that most of the latter assessment applies equally to Take Me to the River, but that tracks biggest problem is more one of balance of passion: the lead vocal is restricted, even in the emotionally gushing bridge, and the backing tracks are given all the expression range. The overall impression is therefore that these are hypothetical feelings quoted longing rather than first-person love.
I do quite like Downtown Lights, although it took me a while to get to that placeprobably because too much of the front half of the track is low-key and moodily pensive without a sense of destination. But she does take us on a journey in the nearly 7-minute-long recording, and its a very interesting one indeed for the last third or so. And god knows shes delivering a great vocal throughout, by turns intimate, passionate, desperate, grand, frail, and resigned. The endings odd lurch to a cutoff is a quirk that works as a setup for the following track, her pal Chrissie Hyndes Thin Line between Love and Hate, but outside of the album context Im not sure how it would land to a casual listener.
Probably my least favorite tracksorry, Annie, I know you love the song, and I know whyis A Whiter Shade of Pale, but then the song has always seemed to me to be a pointless bit of hallucination that didnt need to be documented for posterity and is vastly overrated as a song.
I cant do an assessment of this releases CD of her Central Park concert in support of Medusa, at the moment, but I do want to say that that version of Waiting in Vain is one of my favorites of all her live performances. It gives me chills, especially when she sings its been three years since Im knocking on your door and I still could knock some more . But the track she closes that extra disc with is such a treat: I mean, to have fuckin Paul Simon sing backup on his own song for your cover version that is some serious awesome, honey.
Comments © 2005 and 2015 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.