Imagine! It has been 50 years since a young singer from Brooklyn named Johnny Maestro made his very first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 with a tune called "Sweetest One". At that time Johnny was the lead singer of a popular New York City doo-wop outfit known as The Crests. Shortly thereafter The Crests would release one of the most memorable doo-wop songs of all-time "Sixteen Candles" which rocketed all the way to #2 on the national charts. For the remainder of that decade Johnny would find himself back on the charts with more hits by The Crests and with a few solo hits to boot. After Johnny Maestro parted ways with The Crests in 1964 he kind of faded into oblivion until 1968 when he decided to form a new 11 man group he christened The Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge made a splash on the Billboard charts in the late 60's and Johnny and various incarnations of the group have been performing ever since. Tragically, we lost Johnny Maestro to cancer in March 2010 and then original member Fred Ferrara suffered a heart attack and passed away in October 2011. But the music will live on thanks to a marvelous new DVD released in July 2012 entitled "An Intimate Evening with Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge: 40th Anniversary Edition". recorded at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA in 2006. This is a disc that I will treasure for the rest of my days.
The long-awaited release of "40th Anniversary Edition" turns out to be everything I had hoped it would be. Anyone who has ever seen The Brooklyn Bridge perform in concert marvelled at the vocal prowess demonstrated by lead singer Johnny Maestro. My wife and I had the great good fortune to see the boys perform in Woonsocket, RI in September 2009. Much like Jay Black of Jay and the Americans fame, Johnny Maestro, who was 67 at the time this particular concert was recorded, sounds as good or better than he did when he was a young man. As you might expect among the 23 tunes included on this DVD are a number of the hits first recorded by The Crests including the aforementioned "Sixteen Candles", "The Angels Listened In", "Trouble In Paradise" "Step By Step" and "My Juanita". You also get to sample Johnny's sensational solo hit "What A Surprise". I love that song! Also featured in this concert are a pair of powerful acappella numbers "At My Front Door" and "I Thank The Moon" that spotlight the amazing vocal prowess of The Brooklyn Bridge as a group. These performances definitely left me longing to see more! Meanwhile you can enjoy once again the biggest and the best from The Brooklyn Bridge including the group's biggest single of all-time "The Worst That Could Happen" (written by Jimmy Webb) as well as the haunting "Blessed Is The Rain", "Your Husband, My Wife" and perhaps my very favorite Brooklyn Bridge song "Welcome Me Love" which appeared on their first album. The set concludes with Johnny's thrilling lead vocal on the Rogers and Hammmerstein favorite "You'll Never Walk Alone".
For those who enjoy the music of the fifties and sixties "An Intimate Evening with Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge: 40th Anniversary Edition" would be a wonderful addition to your library. I have always considered Johnny Maestro to be one the greatest vocalists in the history of rock and roll and this concert has certainly done nothing to change my opinion. To me it is truly remarkable how Johnny is at much at home with an intimate doo-wop tune as he is with a rousing rock and roll number. Wait until you see his renditions of the venerable rock and roll anthem "Gimme Some Lovin' and the great R&B standard "Lonely Teardrops". You will be simply be blown away! Aside from the concert (about 90 minutes in length) the DVD also includes a number of bonus features. There are brief interviews with all of the group members, a montage of the history of Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge and footage from the group's induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. As for the production values I would assign this disc a solid "B" as there are some minor variations in the sound quality along the way. Having said that I found that these very minor flaws in no way diminished my enjoyment of this very special concert. It is quite obvious to me that this was truly a labor of love for just about everyone involved in this project. I am thrilled that such a fine video record exists of of of my favorite groups of all-time. If you love this kind of music as much as I do I would snap this one up real fast. Trust me...you will not be disappointed! Very highly recommended!
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