He is considered by many to be Canada's greatest songwriter of all-time and has been a fixture on the Canadian music scene for more than four decades. Music buffs will recall that Gordon Lightfoot achieved considerable success here in the U.S. back in the 1970's. And although I really have not thought much about the man in recent years when I discovered that Rhino records was about to release a "live" CD it really piqued my curiosity. "Gordon Lightfoot: All Live" features 19 of Gordon Lightfoot's most memorable recordings. These tunes were culled from Gordon's live performances at Toronto's legendary Massey Hall between 1998 and 2001. For the most part this is a very entertaining disc.
Having said that, after sampling the first two tracks on "All Live" I became very concerned. I was quite disappointed by Gordon Lightfoot's vocal performances on both "14 Karat Gold" and "If You Could Read My Mind" and feared that the headline for my review was going to be "A Shell of His Former Self". Frankly, I thought the man had lost it. But happily to varying degrees the remaining 17 tracks on this disc largely dispelled that notion. I heard the Gordon Lightfoot I fondly remember on "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" which first appeared on his 1969 U.S. debut album "Sunday Concert". Ironically, that album was also recorded at Massey Hall. I also found Gordon's voice to be loud and clear on one of my all-time Lightfoot favorites "Old Dan's Records" and most especially during the six and a half minute version of his signature tune "The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald". Great stuff! If you are expecting to hear his other big U.S. hits you will not be disappointed. "All Live" also features fine versions of his #1 hit "Sundown" from back in 1974 as well as the Top Ten tune "Carefee Highway" from later that same year. I also got to sample a number of songs I had never heard before. Among this group I most enjoyed "Baby Step Back" which was his final U.S. charted single from 1982 and "Fine As Fine Can Be" which appeared on his 1975 album "Cold On My Shoulder".
Now because of the sketchy vocals on the first two tunes I simply could not rate "Gordon Lightfoot: All Live" a full five stars. However, I find that this disc is clearly a solid four star offering. I thought that the back-up musicians were terrific and the production values solid. I just wish that a couple of my all-time favorite Gordon Lightfoot tunes had made the cut including "The Circle Is Small" and the fabulous medley "For Lovin' Me/Did She Mention My Name". If you are a fan of the man I would latch onto this one right away. In the current environment many of these kinds of discs are only available for a very short time. Highly recommended!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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It is the musical highlight of every calendar year when Canadian Music legend, Gordon Lightfoot announces his run of concert dates at Toronto's storied Massey Hall. May 25th, 2011 marked Gordon's 150th concert at the hallowed hall in the past 40 years. In 1978 he played a remarkable 10 shows in 9 days, selling out each and every night. Now, for the first time ever, Gordon has gone through the archives of live recordings from Massey Hall and has picked the finest performances recorded between 1998 - 2001.
"The recordings have not been technically altered and are authentic live mixes," says Lightfoot of the album. Fans will hear each song exactly as it was performed that night - no over dubs, no mixing - all live.