Live at Blues Alley

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Live at Blues Alley
Eva Cassidy - Live at Blues Alley.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedMay, 1996
RecordedJanuary 3, 1996
GenreBlues, jazz, folk
Length57:21
LabelEva Music
ProducerEva Cassidy,
Chris Biondo
Eva Cassidy chronology
The Other Side
(1992)
Live at Blues Alley
(1996)
Eva by Heart
(1997)

Live at Blues Alley is an album by American singer Eva Cassidy, originally self-released in May 1996. The album was recorded live at the Blues Alley nightclub in January 1996. It was the last album recorded by Cassidy before her death in November 1996.

Recording details[edit]

Unable to interest a major label in recording her music, Cassidy cashed in a small pension she had accumulated while working at her day job in a nursery to self-fund this recording of herself and her live band, comprising Lenny Williams (piano), Keith Grimes (guitar), Chris Biondo (bass) and Raice McLeod (drums), with Cassidy herself supplying vocals and acoustic guitar. The Blues Alley venue was booked for two nights, January 2 and 3, 1996, however on the first night technical issues prevented the tapes being any use so all of the recorded material used originates from the second, Wednesday night's performance. Cassidy was suffering from a light cold through both shows and initially felt that the performances were not good enough to release, but eventually agreed after a previously completed studio take of "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread" was added to round out the package.

Unfortunately, this was to be Cassidy's last release in her lifetime, although in retrospect the beginning of her posthumous rise to fame; less than ten months later she was dead, victim of a melanoma which in all probability she acquired during prolonged sun exposure as part of her daytime occupation.

Video recordings of a number of the same performances, virtually the sum of her recorded video legacy, were later released on DVD as Eva Cassidy Sings, and again (with slightly different track selection) on the DVD portion of the 2-CD + 1-DVD 2015 compilation Nightbird, of which the audio CDs include remixed versions of the songs from Live at Blues Alley as well as 19 additional tracks from the same concert, a subset of which had previously also been included on other posthumous Cassidy releases.

Music[edit]

Live at Blues Alley serves as an example of Cassidy's eclectic tastes, covering classic and contemporary artists from Billie Holiday to Sting, including Al Green, Pete Seeger, Irving Berlin and more. Her cover of "Fields of Gold" was a popular radio song and record companies used it to promote her material; in 2001 Michelle Kwan skated to the music of Eva's version of this song.[1] "What a Wonderful World", the last song she ever performed live, retains one of the rare introductions on the album that was not edited out in which she dedicates the song to her parents.[2] "Golden Thread", by Pete Seeger, was declared by Eva as her favorite song in the album's liner notes and the song she felt had turned out the best on the album. It actually was not performed live at Blues Alley but was pre-recorded months earlier.[3]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[4]

The album inspired attention from audiences outside of her local following in Washington D.C.[5] Before and during the album's recording, Cassidy suffered many physical health problems, whose causes, at the time, were unknown. A month after the album was released, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.[6] Unfortunately, she died three months later without experiencing the peak of her musical career, which would come after her death.[7] "Her posthumous success," writes William Cooper, "has been astonishing, with worldwide critical acclaim and extensive exposure on British television that helped her album Songbird climb to number one on the British album chart in March, 2001." [5]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Cheek to Cheek" (Irving Berlin) – 4:03
  2. "Stormy Monday" (T-Bone Walker) – 5:49
  3. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Paul Simon) – 5:33
  4. "Fine and Mellow" (Billie Holiday) – 4:03
  5. "People Get Ready" (Curtis Mayfield) – 3:36
  6. "Blue Skies" (Irving Berlin) – 2:37
  7. "Tall Trees in Georgia" (Buffy St. Marie)– 4:05
  8. "Fields of Gold" (Sting) – 4:57
  9. "Autumn Leaves" (Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer, Jacques Prévert) – 4:57
  10. "Honeysuckle Rose" (Andy Razaf, Thomas "Fats" Waller) – 3:14
  11. "Take Me to the River" (Al Green, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges) – 3:51
  12. "What a Wonderful World" (Bob Thiele, George David Weiss) – 5:50
  13. "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread" (Pete Seeger) – 4:46 [Studio recording]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart Peak[8] position
Swedish Albums Chart 19
Danish Albums Chart 29
UK Albums Chart 86[9]

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Producers: Eva Cassidy, Chris Biondo
  • Engineer: Roy Battle
  • Mastering: Robert Vosgien
  • Photography: Larry Melton
  • Artwork: Jeff Muller

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fields of Gold". Evacassidy.org. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  2. ^ "What a Wonderful World". Evacassidy.org. 1996-09-17. Archived from the original on September 22, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  3. ^ "Golden Thread". Evacassidy.org. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  4. ^ Allmusic review
  5. ^ a b Cooper, William. "Review of Live at Blues Alley". AllMusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  6. ^ Huey, Steve. "Eva Cassidy: Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Boston Globe". Crosstownarts.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  8. ^ Live at Blues Alley swedishcharts.com
  9. ^ "Official Charts – Search: albums Eva Cassidy". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 23 October 2015.