Bruce Hornsby / Bruce Hornsby & the Range

A Night On The Town [Video]

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Although first released on DVD in early 2004, Bruce Hornsby and some guests were filmed live on a sound stage in 1990 to promote the release of their A Night on the Town album. The audience is only shown in shadows and the sound is so processed it often seems prerecorded, yet Hornsby, his band, and the guests seem to be having a good time. Not the most magnetic of performers, the pianist nonetheless plays these songs -- all but two of which are from the studio album -- with a studied professionalism. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily translate into an exciting visual presentation. Possibly sensing that, Hornsby calls in Jerry Garcia to play on a few tracks, along with Shawn Colvin (who reprises her vocal duet on "Lost Soul"), classy jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson (filling in for Wayne Shorter on "Fire on the Cross"), and a scenery-chewing turn from an obscure but talented leather-clad harpist named Jimmie Wood. None of it adds up to much, though, even if the bandmembers seem to be enjoying themselves, playing songs that differ little from the recorded versions with nary a note out of place. Hornsby breaks with the album's order to offer his version of "The End of the Innocence," the Don Henley hit he co-wrote. Even that falls flat, as the pianist's voice doesn't convey the world-weary quality needed to put the tune over. The sound is enhanced to 5.1 Surround for the DVD issue, and the music certainly has a fuller presence. "Valley Road," originally on Scenes from the Southside, also makes a welcome appearance, since the upbeat gospel/bluegrass stomper lends the proceedings some much-needed energy as the players trade lightning licks. All told, though, this is only for die-hard fans. The rest would be better off hearing the album without the visuals, which unintentionally detract from the beautifully written, intricately arranged songs. Another small annoyance is that "These Arms of Mine," (not the Otis Redding classic) listed as the final track on the DVD box is only a snippet of the song, played behind the closing credits.

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