When is Ben Harper going to get the recognition he so richly deserves? Every new Ben Harper release is a cause for celebration. He is such a unique and talented musician, combining elements of rock, folk, soul and blues to create a multicultural sound that appeals across national, racial and generational divides. If you don't believe me, attend one of his concerts!
Last year, 2009, Harper released his most rocking studio release, the excellent White Lies For Dark Times, a collaboration with his latest backing band, Relentless 7 (Jason Mozersky: guitar; Jesse Ingalls: bass; and Jordan Richardson: drums), excellent musicians all, with whom Harper had previously collaborated on one track (two tracks with Mozersky) on Harper's outstanding 2006 release Both Sides of the Gun. Unlike some of Harper's more mellow offerings, the musical emphasis for the bulk of White Lies, and even more so for this release, is hard driving rock with the sort of insightful lyrics that Harper has always delivered.
This CD/DVD combo, as the title informs, documents the band's July 12, 2009 performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The band here performs virtually the entire White Lies album. The few White Lies songs omitted from this CD were the more mellow ones: "The Word Suicide" was not performed, and the terrific "Skin Deep" and "Fly One Time" are only available on the DVD. In addition to the bulk of White Lies, the band performs their collaboration from Both Sides, "Serve Your Soul," an outtake from White Lies, "Faster Slower Disappear Come Around," from Harper's classic second album Fight For Your Mind, "Another Lonely Day" (a ballad featuring a stinging guitar solo by Mozersky), and a couple of stellar covers, Jimi Hendrix's classic "Red House" (with a ripping slide guitar solo by Harper) and the Bowie/Queen penned "Under Pressure."
The live setting permits the band to turn up the amps, rock out, and stretch out and jam, with Harper playing a great deal of riveting lap-slide guitar, Mozersky adding tasteful guitar leads and Ingalls and Richardson providing powerful rhythm throughout. This band cooks! The performances are for the most part very, very strong. The sound on the CD is decent enough for a concert recording, and the DVD offers 5.1 surround sound in addition to stereo sound. The cinematography on the DVD is unusually good for a concert DVD.
This is simply another terrific Ben Harper release. Highly recommended.