Live: Greetings From The West

Dan Fogelberg

Full Moon, 1991

http://www.danfogelberg.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/21/2008

It seems odd that singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg would wait nearly two decades to release a live album, especially when his “high water” mark in terms of popularity had passed nearly a decade earlier.

But it was with excitement that I entered into listening to Dan Fogelberg Live: Greetings From The West, a disc that, on paper, is a nice mixture of old standards from Fogelberg’s catalog as well as some dusty surprises.

But from the very first song, I found myself saying that something was wrong. Fogelberg’s vocals are almost instantly recognizable throughout his career; this time, though, his vocals are strained, almost as if he needed a long rest from singing to let his throat recover. Whatever the reason, Fogelberg sounds off throughout almost the entire concert, and this does prove to be a major stumbling point.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Yes, that sounds shallow on the surface -- after all, Fogelberg was older, and vocals do change as one gets older. But when you’ve grown up knowing how songs like “Make Love Stay,” “Run For The Roses” and “Leader Of The Band” are supposed to sound, one can’t help but feel a bit let down when the live versions of these songs just don’t live up to expectations.

This, indeed, is the problem with most live albums -- artists have great difficulty recreating the magic of the original song from the studio in a live setting, so in this regards, Fogelberg is in honored company.

This is not to say that Greetings From The West is a dismal album; vocals notwithstanding, the selection of songs is nearly all-encompassing, providing something that almost every listener can enjoy. Sure, you can nitpick that classics such as “Longer” aren’t here, especially when Fogelberg’s acoustic performances shine so brightly on this disc. And Fogelberg’s raw, bluesy take on “Road Beneath My Wheels” is the right texture and the right song for that moment in the concert.

When it comes to the full-band tracks, it is the lesser-known material that seems to be the best. Songs like “Heart Hotels,” “The Spirit Trail” and “The Wild Places” outshine later performances -- surprisingly, this includes “Part Of The Plan,” which just does not live up to its studio counterpart. The closing number, “There’s A Place In The World For A Gambler,” succeeds because of Fogelberg’s interaction with his audience; though no images can be seen, one can imagine a strong bond between the two, and this seems to energize both performer and crowd at just the right moments.

Dan Fogelberg Live: Greetings From The West is a disc that, quite honestly, was about five years too late, and could have easily capitalized on Fogelberg’s early ‘80s superstardom. But, then again, maybe this was exactly what he wanted to avoid, even if it meant losing some of the power in his vocals. For the listener, we’re left with a fairly solid, though flawed, collection.

Rating: C+

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© 2008 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Full Moon, and is used for informational purposes only.