Boz Scaggs

Greatest Hits Live [DVD]

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Recorded at a 2004 stint at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, Boz Scaggs leads a talented nine-piece unit through the rather eclectic highlights of his three-decade career. Recorded specifically for DVD (the accompanying CD -- available separately -- seems like an afterthought), the band looks and sounds tight with Scaggs in typically fine form. Although not the most exciting performer, he holds center stage well as his sharp backing group sticks with him through sumptuous but lovely ballads and the rootsier R&B that also informs Scaggs' sound. In fact, the last half-hour of the show is dominated by 11 minutes of the horn jump blues of "Runnin' Blue" and a quarter-hour workout on "Loan Me a Dime." It makes for a seamless, slick but consistently enjoyable show, nicely modulated between ballads such as "Harbor Lights" (which is also here in a stripped-down jazz quintet version -- recorded at a different show with different musicians -- as the disc's only extra track) and the funkier soft rock of "Jojo" and of course "Lowdown." The latter song -- arguably his most recognizable tune -- oddly kicks off the performance instead of closing it. "I Just Go" from the underheard 2001 Dig album is included but certainly a few fan favorites are missing, replaced by a cover of Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Ask Me 'Bout Nothing but the Blues," not exactly one of Scaggs' biggest smashes. Yet everything here is delivered with enthusiasm and a genuine joy of playing, as opposed to merely slogging through the hits one more time for posterity. The seven-camera, high definition shoot captures all the action in an appropriately professional matter, with all the soloists and backing signers getting equal screen time. The 5.1 surround mix is beautifully rendered too, creating a live but intimate feel. It adds up to this DVD being a terrific and sophisticated career capsule from a pop/soul/blues performer always defined by his class and style.

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