Linda Ronstadt has released her first concert album, Live In Hollywood. The concert took place nearly 40 years ago, and the master recording had been lost for decades.
It’s amazing the master tape was even found. Music producer and friend John Boylan had been checking the internet for any unauthorized use of Linda Ronstadt recordings. He came across an old poor quality video of a Linda Ronstadt concert that aired on HBO in 1980. Boylan was interested in finding the master audio recording for possible release, but didn’t have any luck. Boylan says he was attending his son’s hockey game and told another father, Craig Anderson, the story of the lost recordings. Anderson is an audio engineer at Warner Brothers, and just a day later he called Boylan and told him he found the master tape. It had been misfiled. Boylan says the odds of finding the recordings through a chance meeting at a hockey game must be astronomical.
Linda Ronstadt selected 12 songs from that 1980 concert:
- I Can’t Let Go
- It’s So Easy
- Just One Look
- Blue Bayou
- Faithless Love
- Hurt So Bad
- Poor Poor Pitiful Me
- You’re No Good
- How Do I Make You
- Back In The U.S.A.
- Desperado (The wonderful encore I mentioned in a career-spanning article: Linda Ronstadt…Queen Of Rock & Roll, which you can read on this site.)
We saw Linda Ronstadt in Omaha during that 1980 tour, and this concert from L.A. captures that time brilliantly. The whole album is good, with her clear and powerful voice sounding the way we remember it. The album has a nice flow of rocking moments and softer moments, and Ronstadt uses the appropriate touches of varying dynamics in each song. It shows her great vocal ability wasn’t limited to the recording studio.
For the most part, the songs are performed like her original hits, but are refreshingly “stripped down” compared with the multi-layered studio versions. For “Blue Bayou” she sings the final verse and chorus in Spanish as a salute to her family’s roots in Tucson, Arizona. Also, “You’re No Good” is expanded with an extra guitar break that lets the band jam a little.
What a band it is! The lead guitarist is Danny Kortchmar, who also performed with James Taylor and Jackson Browne. The other guitarist is Kenny Edwards, who worked with Ronstadt since they had the hit “Different Drum” with The Stone Poneys. Bill Payne, of the band Little Feat, is on Keyboards (his band’s song “Willin'” is covered here). Rounding out the band are some of L.A.’s finest musicians…Dan Dugmore on pedal steel guitar, Bob Glaub on bass, and Russ Kunkel on drums. Backing vocals are by Wendy Waldman and Ronstadt’s manager and main record producer, Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon fame). Asher also adds percussion.
Linda Ronstadt’s popularity was amazing. She did what no other woman, man or band had ever done…she was the first artist to ship an album Double-Platinum.
The album was Living In The U.S.A., released about a year-and-a-half before this concert. it was her 6th Platinum album in a row. Her 7th was Mad Love, which was released in conjunction with this 1980 tour. The Live In Hollywood album features three hits off Mad Love, “I Can’t Let Go”, “Hurt So Bad”, and the intensely rocking “How Do I Make You”.
Linda Ronstadt was 33 when she recorded her live album. Now she’s 72, has Parkinson’s Disease, and can no longer sing. In a touching interview on CBS, Ronstadt recently said…”I can sing in my brain”…but she greatly misses the physical feeling of actually singing.
It’s important that recordings like Live In Hollywood exist to remind the world Linda Ronstadt once possessed one of the all-time-greatest Rock & Pop voices.