DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Rita Coolidge – Play Something Sweet, Blu-ray 3D (2012)

Rita Coolidge - still holding the torch…

Published on December 17, 2012

Rita Coolidge – Play Something Sweet, Blu-ray 3D (2012) 

Produced by Mark Waldrep
Studio: AIX Records 86062 [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 16:9 1080i HD 3D or 2D
Audio: Choice of Dolby TrueHD 5.1 “stage” perspective, or “audience” perspective; 5.1 mix of both; PCM 2.0 stereo mix – 96K/24bit
Extras: Biography, Behind the Scenes, Rehearsal, Discography, Photo Gallery, Liner Notes
Length: 55:00 (+5 minutes of bonus video)
Rating: Video: ****     Audio: ****½

(Rita Coolidge, vocals; Jim Cox, keyboards; Dean Parks, lead guitar; Laurence Juber, acoustic guitar; Kevin Axt, acoustic and electric bass; MB Gordy, drums; Lee Thornburg, trumpet; Brandon Fields, tenor saxophone; Maxine Waters (director), Julia Waters, and Oren Waters, background vocals)

Reviewing an AIX Records Blu-ray musical disc is usually an easy task for an audiophile site. The reason is that you can concentrate on the music and vocal performances. The task of optimal fidelity is handled by Mark Waldrep, owner of AIX Records. He records and films in the best state of the art high resolution audio and video. There are no gimmicks – dynamic processing, EQ, reverb, or anything artificial to clean up the sound or mask any flaws. You are getting an “in person” front row performance from the artists and they better come prepared with their “A” game, as I doubt that Mark would release a sub-par performance.

Mark has expanded the musical palette for his Rita Coolidge Blu-ray issue. We’ve got an eleven-piece ensemble including horns, and amazing background vocals from the Waters family of Maxine, Julia, and Oren. When their gospel-tinged voices kick in behind Rita Coolidge, the soul quotient kicks up another few notches. It is great to have Rita back with a first class production. To a large extent she has been off the highly publicized radar screen for quite a while. During the mid to late 1970s, Coolidge was present everywhere. She won two Grammys, recorded with her then husband, Kris Kristofferson, and had “Delta Lady” written to honor her by Leon Russell. She recorded several albums and was a first choice backing vocalist for her warm, burnished and sultry voice. She covered a wide musical path, with rock, pop, country, adult contemporary genres appreciating her talents.  Lately, she has embraced jazz standards as well with, And So in Love for Concord Records in 2005.

For Play Something Sweet, Coolidge has chosen a very winning mix of mostly popular tunes. We’ve got songs for which she is noted – “Higher and Higher,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” mated with two tracks each from Sam Cooke (“Sooth Me” and “Nothing Can Change This Love”), and Allen Toussaint ( “Shoo Rah Shoo Rah” and “Play Something Sweet”), as well as songs like “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and “Take Me to the River” made famous by Al Green. The two Toussaint tracks really benefit from the Waters family vocals and the horns that brighten up the mix.

What is immediately apparent in listening to this acoustic wonderland Blu- Ray is the astounding mix with the drums rumbling on my subwoofer and the bass prominent and filling up the bottom end. Coolidge still has her magical, soulful pipes at age 67, and while not as powerful as in her 30s, she can still inspire and move the listener with her range and voice that is at once both pure and warming.

This wonderful sounding disc would make a nice stocking stuffer for fans of Rita Coolidge, who will love hearing a disc that honors her vocal talents by using the best equipment and recording methods to show how her career has not been given the accolades in an historical perspective that she truly deserves. The 3D probably adds a dimension that brings you even more into the performance, but I reviewed the 2D option, not having 3D playback.

TrackList: Higher and Higher, Sooth Me, The Way You Do the Things You Do, I Can’t Stand the Rain, Just How You Play the Game, Walking Away, Only You Know and I Know, That’s How Strong My Love Is, Nothing Can Change This Love, Shoo Rah Shoo Rah, Play Something Sweet, Take Me to the River, Sensitive Kind, People Get Ready

—Jeff Krow




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