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White Star presents
The Righteous Brothers in Concert (1983)

Bobby: Twenty years ago, that was a lot easier.
Bill: Twenty years ago, EVERYTHING was a lot easier.

- Bobby Hatfield, Bill Medley

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: March 19, 2003

Stars: Bill Medley, Bobby Hatfield
Other Stars: Barry Rillera, Hal Ratliff, John Van Tongren, David "Magic" Bronson, Jose Silva, Greg Prechel, Leo Potts, Wayne Wayne, Paul Bishop, Fritz Wiencke
Director: Jeff Margolis

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:59m:26s
Release Date: January 28, 2003
UPC: 032031167193
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B ACB D+

DVD Review

There's a lovely passage in Dave Marsh's wonderful book The Heart of Rock and Roll: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made dedicated to a chart-topping single from 1965. During a stay in Chicago twenty-two years later, the music writer was in the midst of some assignments that had kept him road-bound for the better part of a month, leaving him isolated and more than a tad homesick. To clear his mind, he strapped on his Walkman, popped in a mix tape of random favorites and took off for a jog, eventually winding up by the lake near Michigan Avenue.

Once there, a lower-than-dirt bass voice emerged from Marsh's headset singing one of the most unforgettable opening lines in music history:

"You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips..."

Anyone with even a passing interest in vintage pop knows those dozen words kick off the Phil Spector-produced masterpiece, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' a song Marsh first heard blaring from a family tabletop radio his father had presented to him many years before. As the song progressed to its emotional climax, a second set of vocal cords blessed with an angelic tenor pleaded for his girl to love him like she "used to do," setting off a gospel-flavored call/response flurry between the choirboy and the bassman, filled with haunting screams that reverberated long in many a mind after the needle lifted from the turntable.

At that point, tears welled from Marsh's eyes: "In the center of the continent," he wrote, "at the heart of a population of six million, I was suddenly, unmistakably, nerve-tinglingly abandoned and alone". If a heartfelt commentary like that doesn't encapsulate the power and passion of the artistry of The Righteous Brothers, I don't know what does.

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield first joined forces in 1962 as members of the California-based quintet, The Paramours. One year later, only the lanky bass singer and athletic tenor remained. During a performance by the reconfigured group, one of the patrons was moved enough to exalt, "That's righteous, brother!" inspiring a permanent name change. It wasn't much longer before Moonglow Records came with contract in hand and three critically-acclaimed albums filled with raw R&B, mixed with their own brand of blue-eyed soul followed. Despite high profile opening act slots for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, only two singles from those non-charting albums scraped the lower end of national music surveys.

However, musical wunderkind Phil Spector saw hit-making potential in the duo and lured them to his well-established Philles label toward the end of 1964. Within a year, four singles smothered with the producer's "Wall of Sound" treatment hit the top ten (including Unchained Melody, which garnered new life via its inclusion in the romantic weepie, Ghost), all of their old Moonglow albums charted for the first time and the twosome were all over the tube on the top variety shows of the day, including Shindig and Hullabaloo. Even after severing ties with Spector, the magic continued on MGM's sister label, Verve Records, where the group's biggest single, (You're My) Soul and Inspiration, was conceived.

Although Medley left for a solo career toward the end of the decade, it soon became evident that, just like the lyrics of that latter song, they couldn't make it as well individually as they could collectively. Aside from brief hiatuses here and there, Bill and Bobby have been musically inseparable since their 1974 comeback single, Rock and Roll Heaven.

The Righteous Brothers in Concert dates from a 1983 stop at L.A.'s famed Roxy Theater on their 20th anniversary tour and features all of the songs referenced above, along with great cover versions of Bob Seger's Old Time Rock & Roll and a soulful medley of Hold On! I'm A-Comin' and Soul Man, in a nice tip of the hat to another equally legendary duo, Sam & Dave. In addition to classy renditions of Lovin' Feelin' and Melody, an arguable high point of the gig is a four-song medley of the harder edged pre-Spector material including the Medley penned garage band classic Little Latin Lupe Lu (which Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels reaped chart fortunes from) and My Babe, featuring a phenomenal six-string solo from longtime Righteous sideman, Bary Rillera, whose style echoes early Carlos Santana.

Although countless one-nighters have weathered Bobby and Bill's pipes ever so slightly at the time of this recording, their showmanship, classy audience rapport and continued passion for their material more than makes up for it. Unlike some of their contemporaries that have taken cabaret-type approaches, these guys still have it (and one need look no further than the thunderous standing ovation the duo received at the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies as evidence; an honor long, long overdue).

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Initially, rich colors and a surprising lack of grain for a video-sourced production dating from the mid-1980s proves impressive. But things turned semi-sour 5 minutes in, during tight shots of the Brothers, as an extremely distracting rippling effect occurred whenever any sort of movement took place; since Bobby and Bill are not wallflowers, this is a problem. Unfortunately, this defect rears it's ugly head rather consistently during the entire performance and it's really a shame, because other than this defect, it's not a bad picture.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Although it isn't as powerful as it should be given their great backing unit, this basic, dry stereo mix is serviceable with nice separation (complete with guitar and keyboard solos getting their own channels la classic rock albums of the past). Also admirable is the utter lack of post show sweetening/tweaking, which plagues many similar projects that pass for in-concert material; minor flaws and all, this is completely "live," which compensates for the faulty visuals.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 20 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Although no special features are included, songs performed as part of melodies are given their own chapter stops, which deserves note.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

The Righteous Brothers in Concert is a superbly paced concert filled with their one-of-a-kind blue-eyed soul. If you're like me, you'll weather the flaws of the so-so video and revel in some of the greatest music of the past half-century. Not bad for two guys that have come a long way from splitting forty-dollar frat gig paydays.

 


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