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Live: Phoebe Snow

4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product Description

2008 live album from the iconic singer and writer of the classic hit 'Poetry Man'. A vocalist's vocalist whose stature rivals those of contemporaries Linda Ronstadt and Carole King, Snow recorded this inspiring set of classics, standards and originals live at the legendary Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, NY on July 30th and 31st, 2008. The album was produced by John Boylan (The Eagles, Boston). 11 tracks.

Review

Reminiscing about the early days of her career, Saturday night November 22, 2008 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Phoebe Snow said that when she started singing in clubs, as opposed to just playing guitar, she did so through clenched teeth.

It's hard to believe. The Phoebe Snow most of us know -- and who appeared at NJPAC -- sings as easily as she breathes, and is capable of building to explosive finales, with superhuman high notes. She is comfortable in a folk or blues mode, but draws from soul and gospel, too, blowing listeners away with the stunning power of her voice. She was gentle Saturday, on songs like "Poetry Man," "Harpo's Blues" and the standard, "With a Song in My Heart." But, backed by a four-piece band, she really belted out other numbers ("Shakey Ground," "Tossin' and Turnin'," "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu").

She confidently tackled songs associated with powerhouses like Aretha Franklin ("Do Right Woman, Do Right Man") and Janis Joplin ("Piece of My Heart"), making them seem like personal statements.

The show, which took place at NJPAC's Victoria Theater, felt like a comeback, even though Snow, technically, has never gone away.

A Teaneck native who now lives in Fort Lee, Snow, 56, emerged as a major talent in the mid-'70s with a defining hit of the soft-rock era ("Poetry Man") and a debut album (1974's "Phoebe Snow") that seems to have left a long-lasting impression on everyone who has heard it. She was nominated for best new artist at the 1975 Grammys. Soon she was forced to slow down, though. In late 1975, her daughter Valerie was born with severe brain damage. Snow devoted so much of her life over the next 31 years to caring for Valerie that her career suffered. She started singing jingles to help make ends meet. She continued to perform her own music, when she could, but without long tours and dogged promotion, it's hard to get music out to the general public, and her albums began selling at a fraction of their former levels. She referred to her 2003 album "Natural Wonder" as "alleged" on Saturday, meaning so few people heard it that its existence seems questionable.

Valerie died in March 2007 and Snow, though devastated, started performing again, a few months later, thinking it would be therapeutic and distracting. It was, and she has continued, booking mini-tours and releasing a concert album, "Live." Throughout Saturday's show, she seemed slightly nervous between songs, but never while singing. Before she sang "You're My Girl," her heart-wrenching tribute to Valerie, she said she was going to take a few minutes to talk about her late daughter. "I have to do this, because I need her with me right now," she said. She also pledged to continue talking about Valerie, at shows, for the rest of her life. She told other stories, too, about the first time she played "Poetry Man" for her mother, for instance, and the recording session for "Harpo's Blues." She also sang some of those jingles that helped pay the rent, and elongated "Piece of My Heart" with a comedic monologue and excerpts from songs ranging from "Summer Nights" (from "Grease") to Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." She also, occasionally, delved into the stories behind her cover songs -- most notably, the fascinating history of "It's All In the Game," whose elegant melody was written, early last century, by Charles Dawes, who later became vice president under Calvin Coolidge.

She mentioned, sheepishly, that the song had been recorded by Barry Manilow and Donny and Marie Osmond, but added that the late, undeniably great Levi Stubbs had also been inspired to sing it, with his group, The Four Tops. It's a song about a boy and a girl, but for this night, it became one about a mother and a daughter: "Many a tear has to fall/But it's all in the game/All in this wonderful game/That we know as love." -- The Jersey Star Ledger, November 23, 2008 by Jay Lustig

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 14, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B001E2PTIQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,454 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harry N. Cohen on October 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I bought Phoebe's new cd last week and have not stopped playing it. In this age of overproduced junk(Jennifer Hudson...wha'happen?), it is a real treat to hear a singer get together with a cracking good band and just sing! Phoebe has been away for far too long. However this live set was more than worth the wait. Phoebe reinvents some of her earlier songs with excellent results. She covers It's All In the Game with a doo-wopish feel. Piece of My Heart has some of those amazing Phoebe notes. There is not a bad song on this set. There are two standouts. You're My Girl is a song Phoebe wrote in memory of her daughter who passed away last year. There is such beauty and heartbreak in the music, lyrics and Phoebe's delivery.This is not a maudlin song at all, but a real loving tribute. I am in tears every time I hear it. The final cut is Rodgers and Harts' With A Song In My Heart, also done as a tribute to her daughter. This is a song I have always found to be "corny". Not any longer. This song is so tenderly done, it gives this vintage American classic a new, beautiful interpretation. This cd is NOT a "downer". It is a real rocker most of the time, and on the occasions when it is not rocking it is poignant and beautiful.2012 update...I have not been able to get through tis cd since Phoebe's passing last year.
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Format: Audio CD
There's a lot more to Phoebe Snow than her big 1970s hit, "Poetry Man," as evidenced by this live 2008 recording. Phoebe wrote five of the eleven songs here (yes, "Poetry Man" appears) displaying the quality and range of her voice, which is just as amazing as on her first recordings over 30 years ago. Snow can be introspective ("Poetry Man"), hopeful and demanding ("Something Real") or rock out (her "Piece of My Heart" easily stands up to Janis Joplin's unforgetable version). This is her first recording on a "major" label (Verve) in many years; let's hope this means we'll be hearing a lot more from her these days.
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Phoebe Snow has one of the most glorious voices in modern pop. When she soars as on the lovely standard "It's All in the Game," it's musical ambrosia. On this live set, Snow starts rocking with "Shakey Ground," a song also recorded by Delbert McClinton & from Snow's It Looks Like Snow CD. "Something Real" that was the title track of a studio set has a beautiful jazz-inflected arrangement. Her classic "Poetry Man," the title track from her CD Natural Wonder and a great track from that set, "The Other Girlfriend," all shine in live performance. Her intro to the Janis Joplin/Big Brother & the Holding Company classic "Piece of My Heart" reflects her lovely sense of humor and then rocks mercilessly. (Don't call her "Ph!") "Rockin' Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu" has an offbeat intro in which she throws the audience off by saying this is a translation of a 16th century song about a tiny elf before she rocks the house. The set concludes with the Rodgers & Hart lovely classic "With a Song in My Heart" in which she bares & shares her breaking heart over the loss of her daughter in an amazingly emotional moment. "Live" is a lovely set with a great band recorded at the Bearsville Theatre in Woodstock, New York in July of this year. For her fans old & new, this is a class act, a real treat. Bravo!
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I bought this primarily for one cut. I heard her cover of "Piece of My Heart" on an internet-radio broadcast and it touched me the way Janis Joplin's version did, so many years ago. Phoebe (or "Ph," if I may be so familiar) doesn't slavishly emulate Janis -- she makes the song her own. And yet, there are some places in the tune when you'd almost swear it's Big Brother playing behind her.

Okay, I love the CD for that one, but the rest is worth the purchase as well. If you're a long-time admirer of this lady's music, you'll enjoy hearing her re-makes of a few of her old hits -- time has not hurt her voice at all! And the music new to her opus is a delight.
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By poeticbrew on November 25, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
there is nothing that compares to seeing/hearing pheobe snow in concert, but this cd comes close. she is backed by an incredibly talented band and her best, flawless self soars through every note. her commentary to the audience is hilarious (i heard similar riffs years ago at her concerts). this is a gem for any fan of hers and a great gift for the pheobe snow novice as well. good job, pheobe! (now won't you come to seattle?)
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There is simply nobody like Phoebe Snow. I first heard `Poetry Man' on the radio when I was 16 and it made me stop short and listen. By the time `Never Letting Go' came out a few years later I was an admitted PS junkie. Hell, despite the knocks the critics gave it, I even liked (and still do) `Rock Away'. So I'm not sure how truly objective I can be about this CD. Standouts for me are "You're My Girl" (a re-working of `I'm Your Girl' from 1989's `Something Real' CD) and `Piece Of My Heart' but there isn't a throw-away in the bunch. The audience seems (logically) to adore her, and Ms. Snow displays graciousness and a very dry sense of humor. Buy the CD; I'm glad I did. Oh, and just don't call her `Ph'.
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I'm not a fan of "live" recordings; but in this case I made an exception and I'm so glad I did. I own everything Pheobe Snow has ever recorded; and I enjoy this live CD as much, if not more than, any studio session she has done. I also recommend here DVD concert. You won't regret the investment.
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