Harriet Schock opens her sixth album with what is another landmark song from her catalog, "OK, You Win, I Give Up, You're Right, I'm Gone." The tune was released on her American Romance album, re-released on the follow-up, Rosebud, garnered intense A&R interest, and has been covered by other artists, including Lisa Jason with Gene Parsons of the Byrds, produced by Stuart "Dinky" Dawson (Dawson and Parsons having written a song on the Byrds' Farther Along album). Almost instinctively, Schock opens the album with this tune and the only composition from her 1974 debut, Hollywood Town: the number one adult contemporary hit "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady." The writer/singer's mastery of the piano to tell her stories is commendable; it is hard to distinguish this from a studio performance except for the applause. Of the 15 tracks, 12 are songs (including a medley); four are vignettes, giving a glimpse of the personal side of the artist; and there are four never-released titles: "Starbucks," "Think How Much You'll Love Me," "Mr. Green," and "Hers," for Schock's sister, Sandra. When Rosebud was re-released, it came with an additional track, "I'm Gonna Hold You to That," but it is virtually impossible for the general public to keep tabs on the output of every songwriter. A live album is one way of bringing attention to new work as well as old. The material is culled from American Romance and Rosebud, Schock's fourth and fifth albums, with the exception of the unreleased material. The live version of "8 Seconds," a song about going for the brass ring one final time, is all the more poignant having originally been recorded by the legendary Capitol A & R man just a few years before his passing. "You Are," "Coyote," and "Starbucks" make up the new "suite" here, the coyote being the name of Venet's record label, Godsdog Records, and "Starbucks" the breakthrough after the writer's block that was brought on when she and the world lost Venet. The double entendre of the coffee shop's illuminated sign and wishing upon a star is an interesting statement; many a brokenhearted person finds solace making that transition out into the real world, where other people might not be able to read a mind, but certainly can feel the vibe. "Think How Much You'll Love Me" is a standout, with the Herbie Katz harmonica and percussion by Danya all adding an eerie dimension to the work that bassist Joe Lamanno and the pianist/singer have crafted through the seven previous titles. This is the avenue Carole King needed to take right after Tapestry, a moody and moving song of question. "Worn Around the Edges," one of the most important songs on Rosebud, co-written by Arthur Hamilton of "Cry Me a River" fame, comes across magnificently, with Gary Floyd and Corwyn Travers' vocals adding that density that Venet put into the original version. Phil Appelbaum's engineering and production are top-notch, putting Harriet Schock squarely in your living room or automobile; wherever you play this live disc, the singer is very present. That it has taken 27 years (actually, closer to 28) for a quality songwriter like Harriet Schock to release a live album is a major statement about the record industry, and Live From Fairfax to Pasadena better just be part one in a series of live performances by this artist on disc. What would really be a treat, in light of the first three 20th Century Fox albums' unreleased status at the time of this CD's publication, would be a "through the years with Harriet Schock"-type compilation of live performances -- where she could re-create highlights from Hollywood Town, She's Low Clouds, and You Don't Know What You're in For -- focusing on titles other artists recorded from that collection and giving listeners her renditions of some of the soundtrack work she's created, like 1985's "First Time on a Ferris Wheel" from Berry Gordy's Last Dragon. Live: From Fairfax to Pasadena has the country-ish "Mr. Green" and the lovely "Hers," but four new titles every couple of years is not enough for the fans who have admired this songwriter's work for over three decades. "Hers" is spun from the same magical spinning wheel that brought listeners "Hold Me," "Let 'Em Love," "Mama," and "All About Eve." Live: From Fairfax to Pasadena is a great first step in bringing this important artist's past and future works back into the public eye.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione