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 her 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 perspective 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 how she handled it. She didn’t quit the song, or even panic. She gracefully directed the audience to work the song with her. It was about the coolest thing I have ever seen on live television.
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 all of 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. Every single Studio C release has sold out same day.
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 show 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, because the banter between songs that is present on the DVD is edited out of the 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. Alright, I have to come clean on that last sentence. I have always like Melissa, but never bought a CD of hers (besides that Concert for New York set I mentioned). However, I am totally addicted to this CD. I have listened to it non stop on my computer every night for about a week now.
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, because it isn’t the vapid shit we are generally fed in a Clear Channel world. 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. I am pleased to say 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.