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Greatest Stories Live Live

4.8 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Certified Multi-Platinum (2 times) by the RIAA. (8/01)


"Stories" is the operative word here. The late Harry Chapin penned tales that touched a chord in listeners regardless of their age, background, or truth be told, regardless even of the type of music they normally listened to. Chapin always came across as a tough guy with a heart of gold, a brainy type who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty--much like the protagonist of "Taxi" (a terrific rendition of which is contained herein). In addition to radio staples like "Cat's in the Cradle," the 1976 recording also sheds light on slightly lesser-known pieces like "Circle" and "Mr. Tanner." Chapin's affable manner shines through the entire album, giving it a disarming quality that's not always present on the studio versions. --David Sprague

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Dreams Go By
  2. W.O.L.D.
  3. Saturday Morning
  4. I Wanna Learn A Love Song
  5. Mr. Tanner
  6. A Better Place To Be
  7. Let Time Go Lightly
  8. Cats In The Cradle
  9. Taxi
  10. Circle
  11. 30,000 Pounds Of Bananas
  12. The Shortest Story

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002GYZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,554 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
What can I say that hasn't already been said? I bought my first copy of this album in 1977 after a buddy in high school recommended it. From that day forward I have been a complete Harry Chapin addict. I have worn out 3 vinyl copies, 2 tapes and fortunately my CD is lasting. It's a special place I can go to when I play this album and I wouldn't want to be without it.
Harry was a special guy. Flawed like the rest of us and he knew it and accepted it. Idealistic but with an awareness of the cruelty of the world. Taught me that the greatest risk isn't looking foolish for trying something that I might not be good at...but that the greatest risk might be getting old and realizing that I never did what I really wanted.
I was 17 years old in 1978 when I saw Harry perform live. My uncle was a musician who had become a local celebrity in upstate NY and who had performed in the studio with a number of well known acts. He mentioned to me that he knew Harry and I should be sure to hang out after the concert because he would talk to each and every fan and loved to mix. Sure enough, after the show (which was amazing...I still remember the guy running up from the crowd, putting his arm around Harry so his friend could take a picture...Harry stopped singing and just started laughing and commenting "I wish I had what you must have smoked"), Harry came out to talk with everyone and sign autographs. Put his hand on my shoulder as he walked in and he stopped and talked to me for quite a while...and when I mentioned my uncle he just laughed out loud and said, "Hell yes, I know him, he was our first lead guitar player back in the days of the Chapin brothers...". What a moment for a 17 year old kid in front of a bunch of buddies.
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Format: Audio CD
There were not many things much better in this world than Harry Chapin in concert, and this 1976 album completely captures the feel good atmosphere of such events. Both of Harry's greatest epic story songs are here, "Taxi" and "A Better Place to Be," along with his two hit singles (because they were short enough for radio play), "Cats in the Cradle" and "W*O*L*D" (which is gleefully adapted to the local radio station). Big John Wallace adds his unique vocals not only to "Taxi" but also the exquisite "Mr. Tanner." As added treats both of Harry's brothers have their own songs, Tom's "Saturday Morning" and Stephen's "Let Time Go Lightly." The evening concludes with Harry's traditional finale "Circle" and then offers as an encore "30,000 Pounds of Bananas," with all of the various endings that Harry considered at one time or another while writing the song.
For those who feel for some unexplainable reason that they only need to have one Harry Chapin album in their CD collection, "Greatest Stories Live" would be my recommendation for that single disc. The man came alive while performing, so there is no better album for remembering Harry where he belongs, on stage, playing and singing his songs until his voice gave out. Given his tragic death, the blurred photograph of Harry on the album cover seems especially poignant. When first released on CD two of the three studio songs on the album, "Love Is Just Another Word" and "She Is Always Seventeen," were cut due to time restrictions. The latter is especially missed and will hopefully be included in the near future.
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Format: Audio CD
"Christ, it sounds like the theme from Godfather II!"
Chapin makes this comment after signalling his band to a halt during the intro to the opener "Dreams Go By", because of a banjo solo in that part, played vibrato mandolin style. A dead giveaway right from the start of how this live set is going to feature his often humorous approach to the material. This is also reflected later on in the set in this version of the song "30,000 Pounds Of Bananas", in which Chapin makes a departure just before the last verse, relating his trials and tribulations in coming up with that particular verse. But Chapin was always more than a comedian with a guitar--his material was mostly heartfelt and often as sentimental as anything the younger Billy Joel ever wrote. Quite at odds with the rules of pop music, Chapin came across more affable than charismatic. In that brief period of musical history, you didn't have to be a babe magnet to be a star. Today people think of the "Singer Songwriter Era" as an aberration. After all, pop music is supposed to be about sex or anger, right? Or if there's a "folkie" dimension to it as in the case of artists like Chapin, a sociology or poli-sci aspect. Or if you don't have any of that, you have to be like Joni Mitchell and be versatile in style and/ or one hell of a player. Harry wasn't any of those things. His guitar style was basic accompanist, his songs were more prosaic than poetic. Their arrangements were pretty much predictable. His voice was limited in range and tonal color (just like the man himself says of "Mr. Tanner", a song also present here). He didn't have the melodramatic, almost operatic delivery of Texan contemporary Shawn Phillips.
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