This one's personal. Few bands have had such an impact on my life as The Call. Never quite garnering the success they deserved, The Call, formed and led by bassist Michael Been, were admired by critics and fans, including Bono and Peter Gabriel, who called the band "the future of American music". Their music was different and addictive, but moved mostly by the depth of Been's lyrics, which were deeply emotional and spiritual, speaking to the depths of human heart and soul.
Michael Been passed away four years go while on tour with his son Robert Levon Been and his band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Three years later, son Been and the three remaining members, Tom Ferrier, Scott Musick, and Jim Goodwin gathered to do a tribute to Michael with two live shows. Robert filled his father's shoes doing vocals and playing bass and, on several songs, using his father's signature bass. The result is a phenomenal and moving live set, recorded both for audio and video.
And 'moving' is merely one word to describe the feeling I had hearing and seeing Robert and the band play Michael's songs. Like many who loved the band, I never got to see them ever. This is the next best thing, a very good thing, a rock music experience from a great band. It's also a deeply emotional experience, stirring the heart and arresting the soul.
Also, for long time fans, I might suggest you listen to the audio recording first. Listen and close your eyes, and try not to think that it's Robert Levon singing. In moments, you'll hear in that voice the presence of Michael Been, possibly a bit more youthful and a bit higher, but there. Then the band and Robert do some of the great ones, like I Still Believe, Into the Woods, Oklahoma, and Let The Day Begin, and your heart leaps and goose bumps ripple upon your arms. Now pop that DVD into your player and see a slender Robert Levon Been, yet with thick black hair and a growing beard like his father, surrounded by his father's friends, and watch ... and listen. Your emotions now have a visual reminder of why you loved this music, these words, all these years.
For the record, there is a difference between the CD and DVD track listing, a few different songs on each. You also might find that some songs, such as Everywhere I Go or Oklahoma, sound a bit rigid like, after all these years and with a new bass player, the quartet struggled to render them correctly. But, no worries, they still sound fine. All you need to do is hear You Were There, Red Moon, or Floating Back and you know that nothing has been lost in the presentation and presence of those songs, or The Call. Possibly, the most exhilarating and emotional time comes at the end of the DVD live show. Robert Levon does You Run, alone, with acoustic guitar, and silhouetted against a single spotlight. This is followed by the hymn Uncovered with his voice and Goodwin's organ alone, as with the original recording. I've always believed these two songs to have some of Michael's most spiritual and salvific references. I wept.
With that, I've said enough. Except to say get this DVD/CD set.
The Call's A Tribute to Michael Been is a beautiful, emotional, and spiritual live concert experience honoring a talented musician and lyricist.
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