Copyright 1999-2003 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

Bams' review of
Luther Vandross,
Live At Radio City Music Hall 2003


Luther Vandross, Live At Radio City Music Hall 2003 (CD)
Running time: 75 minutes
Artist: Luther Vandross
Genre: Soul/R&B
Label: J Records
Artist site:
iTunes site: itms://

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003

(click here to skip to this CD's rating)

I'm a big believer in Fate.

I had Luther "Lufa" Vandross on my mind earlier this week; he suffered a stroke, from which he's still recuperating, in April 2003, and I hadn't heard anything about him lately. So I decided to post a note on the 3BC "Viewer's Voices" ™ webboard on 21 October, asking if anyone knew how he was doing. Strangely enough, later the same day, I got a notice from the Apple iTunes Music Service ("ITMS") that Luther Vandross has a new live CD available. I purchased and downloaded it, and am listening to "Superstar" as we speak, on my iPod. It was a no-brainer: I had to do a review on the CD, and iTunes, this weekend. It's Fate.

Technically speaking, Luther Vandross, Live At Radio City Music Hall 2003 is a collection of eleven of Vandross' "greatest hits", performed live at Radio City Music Hall in February, 2003 (a few months before his stroke). But this CD is much more than that; Live is Vandross' first live recording, a fact that's hard to believe for such a long-lived performer. And even harder for me to believe is the fact that I've waited so long to actually own a Lufa project, considering how his music has had such an impact on my (love)life. Y'all belly-rubbers out there Feel me, right?

I've no regrets, though; this really is the album I've waited my lifetime to get. Proof positive: I've been using iTunes for months now, and subscribed to the ITMS the very first day it was made available to us Mac-ers. But though I'd sampled a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of ITMS tracks before, I didn't waste any time here; within a few minutes of getting the notification, I'd already paid for, downloaded, and started playing Luther Vandross, Live. My iPod and my ears are the happier for it.

Long-time Vandross fans won't find anything new here (hence, "greatest hits"). And in fact, most discerning listeners will realize that they've heard not only the same Vandross songs, but many of the same inflections, before; this tends to be the way Luther swings. Some musicians (like my favorite female vocalist, Rachelle Ferrell), don't like to sound "like the recording", saying they hate repeating themselves. I can diggit. But on the other hand, I am comforted by Luther's "repeat" performances; because he sounded so good the first time around, this works for him. And for his audience.

Vandross sounds best when his sultry voice reaches out to the lover in you, most notably on his slower tracks. I've never been much a fan of his faster tunes (many of them sound like disco to me), but there's plenty to love on Live. It's unfortunate that this was recorded before his Dance With My Father CD hit in June; I would've enjoyed hearing a live version of that song. But with great renditions of "Love Won't Let Me Wait" (truly one of the most romantic songs out there), "A House Is Not A Home", "If Only For One Night", and my jam, "Superstar", Vandross fans new and old, are not left wanting.

If Luther didn't exactly dazzle us with a display of his patented Vocal Acrobatics on this live CD, that's ok. The man can still sing the pants off all those other fakers who mistake disrobing on stage and begging their audience to Throw Your Hands In The Air, for genuine talent and honest entertainment (you hear me, R Kelly?). Let me put it this way, for the more discerning music lovers out there: at the end of the night, who do you want singing in your loved one's ear, to set the mood?

As appealing as the Apple iTunes Music Service is, with their .99 cent-per-song downloads, easily accessible via iTunes 4.1 for the Mac (and new this week, for Windows), I hesitated previously on actually downloading any of the songs I'd put in my iTunes cart. As I mentioned above, there was no such hesitation this time. But Mac-head that I am, I was still surprised by just how smoothly the whole transaction went: set up an account; pick a song/album; pay, download, listen. It's that easy.

Because of Digital Millennium Copyright Act restrictions, there are limits to how ITMS subscribers can access, burn, share, and play their purchased music (refer to for details). But for those with iTunes, an iPod, and $9.99 (plus tax as applicable), you can access this CD a few days before its wide release on 10/28/03. Gotta love Modern Technology.

There are things about not having a physical CD that I miss, though. By popular demand, iTunes does have an option for viewing a CD's cover artwork. But there are no liner notes to be had, and at least for this virtual CD, no mention of the musicians or backup singers (though Vandross does mention Nat Adderly for his beautiful piano solo on "Superstar", and Arturo Tappan's sax solo on "Love Won't Let Me Wait"). Still, according to iTunes' built-in stats, I've played the eleven tracks of Luther Vandross, Live, individually and as a set, going on twenty times so far - and that's just on my home computer. Good thing I can't actually wear my iPod out...

"Nobody does it better" is a fitting statement about, to my ears, the best R&B singer in the business. Get well soon, Lufa. I can't wait until I hear, and see, you live in concert again.


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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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