Phil Seymour

Phil Seymour in Concert!: Phil Seymour Archive Series, Vol. 3

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Phil Seymour was a great rock & roll singer, but more importantly, he was a guy who loved rock & roll, and that simple but crucial fact rings through every moment on this two-disc set, which documents two live sets Seymour played in Los Angeles, one at the Hong Kong Cafe in 1979 (opening for Moon Martin after he left Dwight Twilley's band) and the other at Gazzarri's in 1980 (around the time his self-titled solo album was released). While Seymour had entirely different backing bands on these two sets, musically Phil Seymour in Concert!: Phil Seymour Archive Series, Vol. 3 sounds remarkably consistent -- in both shows, Seymour and company deliver a set that combines power pop energy with rock & roll muscle, and while there is some splendid original material on deck, Seymour includes plenty of covers here, and he sounds like a guy with a fine voice and a stellar record collection, devoting plenty of stage time to classic Elvis tunes (including "My Baby Left Me," "Trying to Get to You," and "You're So Square [Baby, I Don't Care]"), Bobby Fuller's epochal "Let Her Dance," and a pair of Holland-Dozier-Holland gems. (The 1980 concert also includes "If You Don't Want My Love," a collaboration between Phil Spector and John Prine, and try for a moment to imagine a songwriting session between those two.) Seymour was a man with a strong affinity for rock & roll's fabled past, but he and his musicians treat this music as a vital, living thing, and there's a ferocious joy in Seymour's performances that sounds fresh and vigorous more than three decades after these gigs were committed to tape. The audio here is by no means perfect -- both shows seem to have been sourced from cassettes, with the Hong Kong Cafe show apparently an audience tape and the Gazzarri's set sourced from a radio broadcast, complete with an interruption for a station ID -- but the sound doesn't compromise the force of the performances, and this album is another reminder that if rock stardom was rewarded strictly by merit, Phil Seymour would have been a chart-topping hero and the idol of millions. Crank this up and you will dance.

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