08/07/06
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

The Summer of '06 continues to yield some highly-anticipated audio-visual anthologies. Up to bat this week are Bruce Hornsby's twenty year intersections [1985 - 2005] retrospective and the Replay X 3 box set from the power rockers Rush. Both with audio CDs and video DVD full of never-before-available sights and sounds.


Bruce Hornsby -- intersections 1985-2005 (RCA/Legacy)

During his two-decade-and-counting career, Bruce Hornsby has been many things to many people. His seemingly infinite skills vacillate between a highly innovative singer/songwriter and consummate bandleader to being an equally prized support player and interpreter of other's work. As the name of this five-disc set intimates, here is where all that talent comes together.

Rather than the usual approach of collecting the contents chronologically, the four audio CDs are categorized by subject. On top of that -- perhaps figuring average fans won't plunk down the bread for a box set anyway -- the vast majority of Hornsby's 'hits' are taken from rare concert performances.

Disc One -- subtitled "Top 90 Time" -- contains all the songs that have charted for the artist. "The Way It Is," "Mandolin Rain," "The Valley Road," "Jacob's Ladder," -- which became a hit for Huey Lewis & The News -- "End Of The Innocence," -- best known for Don Henley's version -- and "Look Out Any Window," are all highlights. Luckily, one of the familiar studio recordings kept intact is the 1990 single "Across The River," as it features one of the few side contributions offered by Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia.

Indeed their musical connection was a strong one as Hornsby was the only part-time member the Grateful Dead had. He was asked to fill in after the passing of Brent Mydland in 1990. And there are psychedelic relics from his tenure with the band spread throughout. Among them are his version of "Jack Straw" and, as a member of the Grateful Dead, a live reading of "The Valley Road" from their fall of 1990 European Tour. Those are but a pair of the goodies on Disc Two, which is otherwise chocked full of numbers either worked up as piano solos, that ended up on various artists or tribute records, or were done for motion pictures. Another standout is "Hop, Skip and Jump," live in Harlem alongside free jazz icon Ornette Coleman.

The final two audio CDs are nicknamed "By Request" and are equally divvied between key album cuts and formerly unreleased nuggets. Appropriately, Hornsby uses this opportunity to bring it all back home, kicking off the last half of intersections [1985 -- 2005] with an unissued live version of "The Show Goes On," from his native Williamsburg, Virginia. The audience-favorite medleys of "Spider Fingers" and "Tempus Fugit"; "White Wheeled Limousine" and "Long Black Veil"; "King Of The Hill," "Twelve-Tone Tune" and "Mystery Train"; and Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" each present unique facets of Hornsby's immeasurable talent.  

Wrapping up the compilation is a full-length DVD with no less than 22 video clips --making it the most comprehensive visual compendium of its kind. Of course the MTV-style concept videos are all here. They are followed by collaborative efforts with Robbie Robertson ("Go Back To Your Woods"), Branford Marsalis ("Barcelona Mona" and "The Star Spangled Banner"), Chaka Kahn ("Love Me Still"), The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ("The Valley Road), the unlikely twosome of B.B. King & Lou Reed ("The Might Quinn"), The Grateful Dead ("They Love Each Other"), Roger Waters ("Comfortably Numb"), Pat Metheny & Bonnie Raitt ("The Tide Will Rise") and Gregory Hines ("Talk Of The Town").

While definitely aimed at hard-core Hornsby heads, there is so very much diverse music found at the crossroads of these intersections that it would be nearly impossible for any degree of enthusiast to be left wanting.

Rush -- Replay X3 (Mercury/UMe Chronicles)

Although it seems to have taken an interminably long time, enthusiasts of Canadian rockers Rush will have to admit it has been well worth the wait. The made-for home video concert titles Exit Stage Left (1982), Grace Under Pressure Tour (1985) and A Show Of Hands (1991) are finally available on DVD. While that is reason enough for celebration, what is even better are the subtle, yet significant extras that are exclusive to the DVDs.

Top of the list would be the new audio options by guitarist Alex Lifeson -- who went back to the master tapes to create fresh mixes in standard stereo playback as well as 5.1. Surround sound. The latter is offered in both Dolby Digital and dts, literally immersing the viewer/listener right into the concert hall.
 
Exit Stage Left (1982) captures the trio in their home and native land at the Montreal Forum in support of their stateside breakthrough long player Moving Pictures (1981). The strength of the album can be heard on "Red Barchetta," "Limelight," "YYZ," and of course "Tom Sawyer." They bolster the similarly solid set of classics that includes  "Xanadu," "Freewill," "The Trees," and "Closer To The Heart," among others.

Grace Under Pressure Tour (1985) returns Rush to their home base of Toronto. The influx of newer material --  most notably "The Enemy Within," "Red Sector 'A'," and "Distant Early Warning" -- effortlessly find their place next to incendiary readings of "Temples Of Syrinx" and the show-stopping medley of "Finding My Way" and "In The Mood." Plus, as an added bonus, Replay X 3 comes with a CD audio soundtrack companion to the DVD. Not only does it have every note played on the Grace Under Pressure Tour video, it likewise boasts Lifeson's new stereo remix.

A Show Of Hands (1991) documents the happenings as Rush hit the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England in support of Hold Your Fire (1988). The show contains an abundance of more recent songs, including "Force Ten," "Prime Mover," "Mission," and "Turn The Page," from their latest effort and "The Big Money," "Manhattan Project," "Marathon," and "Territories" from the preceding release Power Windows (1985). The concluding combo linking "Temples Of Syrinx," to "La Villa Strangiato," and "In The Mood" is an encore for the ages.

Presumably each of these offerings will be available separately at some point, however the supplementary CD circa the Grace Under Pressure Tour makes this quad disc set an irresistible offer.

 


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.
 

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