JJ Cale in Session at
the Paradise Studios, Los Angeles, 1979
I can't stop listening to this DVD. It's like being at a live concert. Your home theater only needs two point one channels if they're the right two point one channels. In this case, the point one is a Hsu VTF-2 Mark 4 subwoofer and it's making the floor shake. The video quality is bog standard on this DVD, but the sound is awesome especially the bass. Did I mention the floor is actually literally moving? The rest of the system is a Denon DVD-2500BTCI Blu-Ray transport feeding a Panansonic PT-61LCX65 TV which sends its audio to a VTL Deluxe Preamp and a pair of VTL 120's powering Linaeum LS2 speakers. Like I said with the right two speakers the sound surrounds.
You can hear this performance on YouTube; you won't get the deep bass on the DVD that makes this album so special, but it's useful for giving you the flavor of the man. Rumor has it he had the chance to be really famous once when Crazy Mama (Track 11) was climbing the charts, but he refused to lip synch on American Bandstand to promote the record. Personally, I think he chose wisely. In concert, he said Every time I hear Eric's recorded another one of my songs for advertising, I hear the cash register go Ka Ching! He's got the money. He's doing what he wants and he can still walk down the street unmolested by groupies. Oh wait …
01. Nowhere to Run
03. Ten Easy Lessons
04. Sensitive Kind
05. Hands Off Her
07. Going Down
08. Corine Corina
09. Roll On
10. No Sweat
11. Crazy Mama
12. Fate of a Fool
13. Boilin' Pot
14. After Midnight
15. T-Bone Shuffle
16. T-Bone Backwards
17. Same Ole Blues
18. Don't Cry Sister
19. Set Your Soul Free (Tell Me Who You Are)
20. T-Bone Backwards
There are a couple of short amusing chats with JJ, but unlike some music videos, the bulk of the time it's just music. There isn't a bad track on this album. The playing is way more muscular than on his records. The band just lays right into it from the opening track Nowhere to Run and never lets up. You will not believe the bass pouring out of your speakers. The beat is big thumping tremendous and propels the whole album. The drums and guitars are crisp. The solos are tasty. The mood is very relaxed and the band is having a great time. The standout track for me is Going Down (Track 07) where they, ahem, take it up a notch. The energy on that track is just phenomenal, which is saying something since we've already heard the band in a rip-snorting version of JJ's signature song Cocaine (Track 02). Studio owner, Leon Russell, lets it rip on piano and kinda snarls out of the side of his mouth. Then the saxes take over with a wailing chorus the whole backed up with fer-ro-cious rhythm guitar. It ain't all up-tempo though, JJ can sing a ballad with the best of ‘em viz Sensitive Kind (Track 04).
The video quality may be bog standard, but the director, Robert Garofolo, does a great job of zeroing in on the right musicians at the right time. There are some great shots of JJ's hands playing slide on Track 11 Crazy Mama and as he plays Track 16, T-Bone Backwards. Improbably, I stumbled on this DVD in a souvenir shop while out of the country. Looking on Amazon, the US edition has some bonus tracks that aren't on my DVD.
5.1 US DVD disastrously inferior to 2.1 German DVD.
I cannot emphasize enough that the German DVD which I reviewed is completely superior to the US DVD which is absolutely anemic sounding and a pale shadow of the German version. There is none of the deep bass on the US DVD which makes the German DVD so outstanding.
The German DVD is FNM 0377 on the Falcon Neue Medien label. It is in 2.1 audio. This is the DVD I reviewed and has a dark cover showing a graphic of a guitar whereas the US DVD has a photo of JJ Cale with a reddish background.
The US DVD is COTV109 on the Concert One label. It is in 5.1 audio and comes with a CD.; The sound on the CD is close to the German DVD, but the German DVD is airier and has more sense of space.
Probably the huge difference between the US and German versions of this DVD is because the US DVD was processed into 5.1 audio whereas the German version kept the original two channel mix.