Melissa Etheridge live CD/DVD release - a review

Melissa Etheridge has managed a kind of distribution hat trick. Earlier this year, she released ‘Lucky’, a decidedly upbeat and celebrative batch of songs. Well, after 'Skin', this one looks darn cheery! No one can fault here for the depth of 'Skin', remember that divorce produced Blood on the Tracks… to say the least. Just recently, Melissa has released a compilation CD/DVD of the whole ‘Lucky’ project live.

I can’t say I have ever heard of that technique before, but it certainly speaks to her confidence in the material. Frankly, I am totally thrilled at the idea. We get a 360 degree of the music. Etheridge comes across better in concert than the studio. She has an unbridled charisma, a sexy self confidence, and presence that really comes across live. Did you see when she did the concert for New York? Hers was the finest performance, in spite of her microphone going out halfway through 'Come to my Window'. Perhaps it was because of that. To me, she handled that situation so well… I have loved her ever since.

Melissa Etheridge is also a known benefactor to all lovers of great music by having started the Studio C tradition. Back in 1998, Melissa showed up to do promotion for her first tour and album at a Boulder, CO radio station. She was invited to play a song in the studio. She was traveling in her station wagon across the country at the time and had her acoustic in the back. She grabbed it and did a couple of songs off the cuff as part of the radio interview for KBCO. What was born was Studio C, the most influential live in the studio environment in adult rock radio. 16 albums later, and every penny of millions donated to AIDS charity all started from the back of Melissa’s humble station wagon.

The CD does justice to her new material, but as you can imagine… it is in the DVD where we get to really get a feel for the experience. Now, these days many CD’s are released with rush job DVD’s to encourage folks to buy the album instead of downloading it. However, this package feels to me more like a well produced and thought out DVD… with an accompanying CD of the show as well.

The DVD includes the huge hit 'Breathe', which is simply a great piece of music. I am not quite sure that the DVD is from the same performance as the CD. However, the banter between songs that is present on the DVD is edited out of the music CD. Also a treat on the disc is a powerful song called 'Tuesday Morning' which is a sad tale of 9/11, and a sly and subtle piece of activism as well. I should note she has a decently thorough website. The material is fantastic. They aren't all hits, yet... but I would put this collection with anything she has done.

I think this is terrific, the combining of CD/DVD sets. If more artists did this… I could throw away at least one of my various media copies of Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘Live in Central Park’. Since the GOP recently confiscated all of my Cat Stevens albums, I have come to appreciate an evolving perspective on folk music. Though the experience is 100% a rock and roll show, to me the real feel is folk Melissa’s music is contemporary folk. Maybe that is because she makes such a great protagonist in my pantheon. Long story short, she doesn’t make a great rock star. In the 44 minute ‘Day in the Life’ featurette on the DVD you get a feeling of who she is in her down time. To me, she was exactly who I expected her to be.

I am sure you know she was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We wish her all the health and love in the world to get through this in one piece. The great folks at the aforementioned KBCO have done a terrific thing with running an auction in Melissa's name for Breast Cancer research. The winner of the bid gets all 16 Studio C discs on an I-pod, along a recording of the session that started it all.

How great is that? Maybe Clear Channel isn't the devil after all.


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