Judge Bryan Pope says this country crooner's concert disc made his brown eyes blue.
I've heard it said that dreamers never lie
Country/pop crossover princess Crystal Gayle performs her greatest hits live with the help of her band, three backup singers and five feet of hair. Watching Crystal Gayle in Concert, it occurred to me how mind-boggling it is that Gayle and Loretta Lynn are sisters. Could these two women possibly be any more different? One's a little bit country; the other's a little bit…well, not. One would be at home on the cover of Fine Country Living, while the other could pass for an early '80s Cosmo cover girl. And then there's the music. Lynn's bluegrass rhythms have always echoed the down-home earthiness of her Kentucky roots, but Gayle? Not so much. Since she first hit the radio in the '70s, Gayle has swung for the crossover charts with mellow, easy-on-the-ears tunes. She's to country music what Barry Manilow is to rock and roll.
As much as that sounds like criticism, it's not intended to be. What Gayle does, she does very well. She may never be the legend her sister is, but she has her own style, a honey of a voice, and inimitable trademarks: the porcelain doll complexion, blue eyes, apple dumpling cheeks, the gentle tilt of the head when she sings. And, of course, her famous, ankle-length hair.
Crystal Gayle in Concert is, as far as I can tell, her only concert available on home video. For fans, it's a dandy. Recorded in 1982, it covers most of her early hits, including "Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For," "You Never Gave Up On Me," "Talking in Your Sleep," "Ready for the Times to Get Better," "Our Love is on the Fault Line," "Half the Way" and "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."
The concert is refreshingly devoid of flash. You get Gayle, her band, a few backup singers, and her music. No sets, no choreography, not even a costume change. Gayle limits the chit chat between numbers, and what conversation there is occasionally verges on embarrassing (when introducing "Our Love is on the Fault Line," she says, "If you live in California, you might be able to relate to this.").
Still, Gayle is in good voice, and she's clearly having a good time fluttering from one top ten hit to the next, occasionally throwing in a show tune ("Can't Help Lovin' That Man") or other pop standard. The only time her highbrow style doesn't mesh with the material is when she tries to get down and dirty with "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do." But the audience loves her, and she thanks them with two encores, including "Rocky Top," a song made popular by Lynn.
Kultur gives Gayle's sole concert recording a handsome DVD treatment. The full-screen presentation is remarkably clean and crisp for a 23-year-old concert, showing off the simple but vibrant lighting design. Although the packaging didn't indicate, the Dolby 2.0 audio seems to be in surround, giving the instrumentals a full, robust sound and providing a surprisingly rich listening experience. Despite the disc's lack of extras, Gayle fans should be pleased.
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