No Better Place (Live In Chicago)

January 01, 1970

(Shout Factory, 75
minutes)

 

www.shoutfactory.com

 

BY BILL HOLMES

 

Within seconds
of the opening number (“I’ve Got a Flair”), one instantly recalls how consistent
and underappreciated Fountains of Wayne has been since dropping their great
debut album upon us. Misunderstood pop savants, their shark fin broke the
popular ocean surface only once with “Stacy’s Mom”, and then – of course – they
were reviled by the underground pop hipsters for selling out and having a
commercial hit. Never mind that it was an infectious and clever song (albeit a
Cars knock-off) and not even among the top dozen tracks in their repertoire.
Perhaps that explains the dour expression usually seen on singer Chris
Collingwood’s face in other live videos, a mood that thankfully seems to have
disappeared for this engaging and enjoyable performance. Indeed, the front line
of the band looks like they’re having fun; Adam Schlesinger’s animated vocals
and Jody Porter’s rock god poses do their best to fill the huge stage. (Drummer
Brian Young and versatile additional musician Steven Gold are pasted far
upstage).

 

The set list is
strong, of course – tracks like “Denise” and “Red Dragon Tattoo” are lively pop
nuggets and both “Survival Car” and “Bright Future in Sales” are standout
rockers. The stripped down “Hey Julie” will send one racing for their Rubinoos
albums. Fans know that “Radiation Vibe” usually contains a lengthy midsection
where the band playfully incorporates a medley of classic tunes like “”Hot
Blooded”, “Jet Airliner” and “Twilight Zone”, but either they skipped that
routine this night or it was edited out to avoid the cost of royalty payments.
But that’s a small nit to pick – the show is strong. Track after track, the
juxtaposition of ear candy melodies and clever, character-driven lyrics confirm
the wealth of great material they’re produced in just a few albums.

 

As solid as the
concert is, the real treat on this DVD is the five acoustic performances by the
trio of Collingsworth (almost unrecognizable in beard and glasses), Porter and
Schlesinger. It just proves that great songs transcend arrangements, and great
songs are one thing Fountains of Wayne have in spades.

 

Special Features:  Five
acoustic tracks.

 

 

 

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