José Feliciano

The Paris Concert

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Forty years after he rose into the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 with his cover of the Doors' "Light My Fire," José Feliciano spends 90 minutes in the New Morning nightclub in Paris singing and playing that song and plenty of others, sounding and looking none the worse for wear after all these years. "Light My Fire" provides a template for Feliciano's musical approach, as he alternates between a Spanish acoustic guitar and an electric with a clear plastic body, putting his own stamp on a wide range of pop hits associated with the likes of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder, among others. He sprinkles in some Spanish songs and the occasional original, such as "Crazy Heart," which he says he has never recorded, and the jazz instrumental "Affirmation." But when it comes to the covers that form the heart of the set, he is fearless, declaring, "Neil Diamond, eat your heart out!" during his version of Diamond's "Cherry, Cherry." (More likely, Diamond is crying all the way to the bank to cash his royalty check.) Feliciano even takes on a trio of '60s guitar heroes toward the end, starting with Santana's "Oye Como Va," continuing with the Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Purple Haze," and concluding with Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." He gives much of the flavor of the original renditions on these hard rock tunes, but "Light My Fire" is more typical, as he takes a song for which one might have thought, back in 1967, a definitive recording had been made by the Doors, and reinvents it in his own Latin/folk/jazz idiom with his elastic tenor voice on top. That approach still works, whether he's borrowing from the Gipsy Kings or Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes Featuring Teddy Pendergrass. The hundreds in the club have trouble staying in their seats, and the cameras capture the excitement well.