Mickey Newbury

Live at Montezuma Hall

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This is Newbury's first live set and it's revelatory to hear him in front of an audience with nothing but an acoustic guitar. It's obvious that he has his audience from the opening of "How I Love Them Old Songs" and by the time he tells the heartbreaking story of "Cortelia Clark," they are falling apart and Newbury is soaring with the inspiration he's taking from the songs and the audience entranced in front of him. The second part of the album begins with a long, rambling story that ends in "Bugger Red Blues"; a kind of ruse to break the tension. Newbury is a master showman here (the set was not edited in any way), carrying his audience through "How Many Times (Must the Piper Be Paid for His Song)," and a raggedly beautiful rendition of "American Trilogy." It sounds like the place is coming apart at the seams! But it's in the encores that Newbury reveals just who he is as an artist. He does a soulful cover of Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love." It's as if Ray Charles and Charlie Rich met each other in New Orleans barroom and sang together. And while that may be the scenario, the delivery is all Newbury's. He breaks the song -- and himself -- down and builds it back up again before taking the set out with his own "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye." Man, there must not have been a dry eye in the place because I can't get through it straight after hearing it over a hundred times! Newbury has recorded numerous live records since Montezuma Hall, but none have come even close to matching its power and intensity. In fact, there are few live records by anybody that can hold a candle to this classic.

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