David Rudder

No Restriction: The Concert

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David Rudder didn't settle for half measures when it came time for the quasi-obligatory live album. No Restriction: The Concert is a three-CD set recorded in Trinidad with a 16-piece band including six horns, a like number of backing singers, and a choir to boot. But the answer to the key question -- do the live performances surpass the studio versions? -- is pretty inconclusive. No Restriction fairly faithfully follows the typical concert curve -- starting slowly and picking up a substantial head of steam halfway through the first disc before bogging down with some extended solos and audience participation routines you had to be there for. Rudder is in fine voice and the arrangements are predictably first-rate, although the tempos seem a little sluggish. It does showcase early career classics like a strong "Day of the Warlord," and "Song for a Lonely Soul" hits the soca bull's-eye dead center. Snappy horns drive "Heaven" and segue into the reggae-cum-Latin feel of "Another Day in Paradise," and Rudder and company repeat the process to great effect when "Bacchanal Woman" rocks right into the rapped vocals of "Ballad of Hulsie X." "Calypso Music" also hits home as it rides a bed of gospel keyboard chords with flashing horns overhead, and the nearly 11-minute performance doesn't feel overly long at all. But the third CD is largely extraneous, mostly "intimate" versions accompanied only by solo piano or saxophone and filled out with a 15-minute interview that requires some ability to understand Rudder's Creole patois. No Restriction is a solid enough live album but certainly more for dedicated fans than newcomers -- it's not even a temporary teaser/preview for that great best-of compilation Rudder will put out some day.

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