Linda Ronstadt

Long, Long Time Ago: Video Archive 1967-1987

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Almost two and a half hours of color film clips of Linda Ronstadt, spanning the late '60s to the late '80s, are featured on this unauthorized two-DVD set. Starting all the way back with her days as lead singer for the Stone Poneys (on three songs done live at the Bitter End club), it's devoted primarily to television appearances, and also, refreshingly, consists mostly of live rather than mimed performances. No doubt there's more Ronstadt footage in existence, but it's hard to imagine a better retrospective of this period, particularly as a lot of space is given to her pre-superstardom era in the late '60s and early '70s. Most of that's found on disc one, which includes some surprising duets with Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, and Bobby Darin (who backs her on acoustic guitar), as well as a set on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert on which she's backed by the Eagles, also playing guitar on an acoustic version of Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" with guitarist Bernie Leadon as sole accompanist. It's also a surprise to see her in unexpected settings like Playboy After Dark (at the outset of her solo career) and Tennessee State Prison (just as she was emerging as a big star in 1974). There are also, of course, a good of number of clips from her mid-'70s superstar era, as well as duets with Phoebe Snow, Smokey Robinson, Randy Newman, and at the very end, a 1987 Saturday Night Live appearance fronting the Mariachi Vargas. There are small drawbacks to this package: some might find five versions of "Long, Long Time" (people tend to forget that was her only Top 40 hit prior to 1975) too many, there are too many oldies covers in the later years, and the compilers have seen fit to periodically put a small unnecessary logo with the title of this DVD on the screen. But the audiovisual quality is consistently good to excellent, and though no doubt there would be small improvements in the presentation and sequencing should it have been assembled for official release, this is a fine collection as is.