The Call Live. pick-of-the-monthOriginal members Goodwin, Ferrier, and Musick pick up where they left off so many years ago, reviving The Call - fronted by the son of founding member, Michael Been...

The Call – A Tribute to Michael Been (Deluxe Edition DVD + CD 2 Disc set)
The Call featuring Robert Levon Been
Lightyear / Label Records
2 Discs: audio CD and DVD
Audio CD:14 / 75:09
DVD: 1 hour, 21 minutes (main program) / Dolby Stereo 2.1 / 16:9 aspect ratio

It's been four years since we lost Michael Been to a heart attack at the age of 60 and fourteen years since the demise of his critically-acclaimed band, The Call. His solo album from 1974, On The Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, proved that, as singularly identifiable as The Call's sound was, it was Been's soul all along that drew us to the music. Now, as if we're stepping back in time, we get to see The Call in concert, with The Call – A Tribute to Michael Been (Deluxe Edition) - and that soul still seems to inhabit the songs through the presence of the singer/songwriter/bass player's son, Robert.

Much like Julian Lennon or Dani Harrison, Robert Levon Been conjures up the sound and even the physical image of his famous father. Thankfully, Robert has embraced the music that his dad created and has enthusiastically embarked on this journey to effectively re-assemble The Call, stepping into Michael's role as singer and bassist – even to the point of actually playing the very bass guitar that his father used (the instrument had been stolen but has been recovered and is used extensively in these performances). Backed up by Jim Goodwin (keyboards, BGVs), Tom Ferrier (guitar, BGVs), and Scott Musick (drums, BGVs) – all original members – the younger Been delivers energetic yet sometimes haunting versions of classic songs by the iconic group.

The set list is basically the best of The Call, featuring signature songs such as "Everywhere I Go," "I Still Believe," "Turn a Blind Eye," "Let The Day Begin," "Modern Romans, "The Walls Came Down" and others – fourteen in all on the CD, fifteen on the main program of the DVD, and four bonus performances found in the DVD's 'extras' menu.

Nostalgia and memory of the original recordings both help and hurt the audio CD experience, but the added visuals and ambiance captured by the DVD kick things up a notch. The multi-camera shoot, directed by Mark Popadic and Micah Levin, is edited with a knowledge of the music and a great rhythmic sense. The directors show a great eye for composition and artistic set-ups without distracting from, but enhancing, the experience of the music. The almost hour and a-half is a treat to the eye as well as the ear, capturing the emotion of Been's performance and giving a tantalizing look at Ferrier's fascinating left-handed guitar work, Musick's unique drumming and Goodwin's multi-layered keyboard playing.

The CD is essentially the musical soundtrack to the live performance that was captured for the DVD. The performances are strong and the sound of Robert's vocals, perhaps a bit over-saturated in reverb and echo, are still close enough to his father's tone and delivery to bring you immediately back to when you might have first listened to the Call. The tracks go directly from one song to the next for the most part, only interrupted by a brief few words of introduction by Robert – by the way, be prepared for a couple of tossed-off F bombs.

This is a 2 Disc Set that every fan of the music of The Call needs to have. Always somewhat under the radar of the general public but always a favorite of the critics, The Call's fan-base remains strong. For those, like myself, that never got a chance to see the original band perform live, it's a revelation to see the mastery of Goodwin, Ferrier, and Musick as they pick up where they left off so many years ago. Don't expect rust – there isn't any. This wonderful package serves not only as a great entertainment on its own but as a catalyst to drive you back to those original recordings by The Call – and I have a feeling that this would be just fine with Robert and the band.

-Bert Saraco

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