Review: Various Artists, Summer of Love, 40th Anniversary
On September 2, 2007 a free concert was held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park celebrating the 40th anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love. This CD/DVD collection is a record of that event. With two CDs and 2 DVDs at a price less than $25 it is a very generous collection. Whether or not it’s worth it’s low price will depend on how much the listener/viewer is willing to put up with in order to hear some well played music or perhaps wallow in nostalgia as the case may be.
The quality of playing on many of the tunes here is very high. Whoever these people are (more on that later), many of them can really play. As would be expected at a gig like this, songs tend to become extended jams and more often than not, the musicians tear the place up. There’s more than enough good music here to justify buying the collection.
The vocals are another story. Some are good, others are not. Although every song on the collection is played or sung with great enthusiasm, there are several cases where notes the singer could hit in their youth are well beyond their current abilities. There are also cases where the ability to sing in key is a distant memory. If you can handle enthusiastic screeching, this won’t be a problem.
I started to watch the DVDs but quickly gave it up. From the little I saw, the interviewer’s questions were beyond lame and the musicians often seemed embarrassed or annoyed by the whole staged interview process. Maybe it gets better.
It’s hard to believe anyone could release anything with documentation this bad. If you recognize a song, all well and good, if you don’t, you’re shit out of luck because nowhere is there a list of song titles. I’m not making this up. Each CD lists the bands in the order they appear but does not give the titles of the songs they play. Also, there is no listing of the musicians who are playing in each band. Given that more than a few of the original members of these bands have since passed away, it would be nice to know who was running around in 2007 playing under the band’s name.
If you like the music of late 60’s San Francisco played loose, free and well, and you don’t much care who is playing it, there’s a lot here to like. You will have to put up with some truly dreadful vocals and abysmal documentation but if it’s all about the music for you, it’s here. If you’re attracted to the collection because of the names of the bands listed on the box, be careful. There’s no telling who these people are and in some cases what you hear will be a major disappointment if you have fond memories of the original band.
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