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POP LEGENDS LIVE

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  The Association, Gary Lewis, Gary Puckett
Director: Bruce Colgate
Audio Dolby 2.0
Video:  Color Full Screen 4:3
Studio:  Standing Room Only
Features: See Review
Length:  165 Minutes (3 discs)
Release date:  June 26, 2007

“This diamond ring doesn’t shine for me anymore,
And this diamond ring doesn’t mean what it did before,
So if you’ve got someone whose love is true, let it shine for you.”

Films **1/2

While the late 1960’s were dominated almost entirely by British bands, there were still several American acts that charted, including the infectious tune “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.  I have not been able to get it out of my head since watching it on this DVD, because even though I knew the tune already, the energy in their performance makes it fresh all over again. 

I have attended many “reunion” concerts and have found most of them to be better than expected.  The main disappointment would be not seeing the original legendary members, but discovering that sometimes the replacements were actually better than the originals.  Most of these concerts sound good but visually are very minimal with few if any special effects.  Such is the case with these Standing Room Only productions.  The bands all sound extremely tight and have plenty of energy for their classic hits.  Tasteful camera movement and adequate lighting make them entertaining to watch. 

We get to see Gary Lewis (son of Jerry Lewis) playing drums on “Look Through Any Window” and hear him reminisce about getting free lessons from his father’s friend, Buddy Rich.  Lewis is surprisingly good on the skins and his voice is still fine and in tune despite the passage of time. “This Diamond Ring” is one of the better hits of the period and as mentioned above remains infectious like candy you have not eaten since you were young.

The Association recorded many fine songs such as “Windy and “Walk Away Renee” and they still sing in tune so if you enjoyed their original hits you will enjoy their performance here too, but honestly I have always found their music too vanilla and their performances too pedestrian to be memorable.  I see and hear hipper stuff in Catholic mass during Lent.  But they discuss their origins in a pre-concert interview which is a nice bonus, and “Windy” of course was a staple of lite classic rock.

The Gary Puckett disc is a little odd since the package claims that Gary Puckett and the Union Gap sold more records in 1968 than the Beatles, yet he only does a couple of his own songs on here, such as “Woman, Woman,” yet he covers other people’s songs like “Love the One You’re With” and Elvis’ “American Trilogy.”   He sounds fine and gives a good interview but I am not sure why he only does a few of his own tunes. 

Overall I think the set is a bit overpriced for only a handful of well-known tunes, but the performances and production are very good. 

Complete song list:

The Association:  1) Just About the Same, 2) Windy, 3) Everything that Touches You, 4) Years of Trying, 5) Six Man Band, 6) Never My Love, 7) One Too Many Mornings, 8) Walk Away Renee, 9) No Fair at All, 10) Enter the Young, 11) Cherish, 12) Along Comes Mary. 

Gary Lewis and the Playboys: 1) Count Me In, 2) Without a Word of Warning, 3) Everybody Loves a Clown, 4) This Diamond Ring, 5) Save Your Heart For Me, 6) Sure Gonna Miss Her, 7) Little Miss Go Go, 8) Green Grass, 9) Look Through Any Window, 10) Sealed With a Kiss, 11) She’s Just My Style.

Gary Puckett: 1) Lady Willpower, 2) Over You, 3) Don’t Give in to Him, 4) Love the One You’re With, 5) This Girl is a Woman Now, 6) Runaround Sue/Oh Pretty Woman, 7) Woman, Woman, 8) American Trilogy, 9) Kiss Him Goodbye, 10) Young Girl.

Video **

Nothing fancy but better than DVDs released by many bigger acts.  Interesting camera work and no artifacts or other problems. 

Audio **

Only Dolby 2.0 but good mixes on all three discs.

Features  **

The Gary Puckett disc has a separate “unedited” interview, but for the most part the interviews are woven into the concerts, which normally I despise but good editing makes it work here.  They do not interfere with the concerts or songs significantly.  Gary also mentions without any bitterness that Creedence Clearwater Revival and Chicago opened for him, but they went on to much greater success than he ever did.  All of the performers seem to have uncommonly good memories of their glory days. 

Summary:

While none of these bands are remembered as much as the groundbreaking work of some of their contemporaries of the 1960s, their excellent performances make the classic hits come alive.

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