Various Artists

The '70s Soul Jam, Vol. 1 [DVD]

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The '70s Soul Jam, Vol. 1 is the strong opening of a three-DVD series, a smooth, slickly produced, and enjoyable concert from the Palace Theater in New Haven, CT, by the 2001-vintage incarnations of such renowned 1960s/1970s outfits as the Stylistics, the Dramatics, the Chi-Lites, the Delfonics, and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. The show gets off to a bracing (and exquisitely harmonized) start with "Driving Me Wild" by the Stylistics, which also nicely showcases the backing band's horns -- the rest of their set is just as satisfying; their stage moves might not be anything too sensational, but when the falsetto line comes in on "You Are Everything," the hairs on the back of your neck just stand up in delight. Ron Banks and the Dramatics don't come off nearly as well, being a little less prodigious overall vocally, though they try hard on "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" and "Get Up and Get Down" -- the only real problem with the former is that the original was so well recorded, and so beautifully arranged and sung, that it pales next to any live version this reviewer has ever encountered. The Chi-Lites deliver a sound so elegant and a show so strong that they could rate a DVD all their own. The Delfonics carry you to the big finish with the post-Harold Melvin version of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, who deliver a soaring finale. The audio and visual quality are of the kind of standard that can be used to demonstrate the medium. Each song gets a chapter marker and the editing is smooth and tight as well.