It’s a wonderful testimony that not only did Cool Blue Halo strike an emotional chord in many hearts when it first appeared on Passport in late 1987, but it remains held in reverence to the point of a reunion show/album to capture the spirit of that original performance and to celebrate it. For all the right reasons, BOTH versions of Cool Blue Halo work perfectly with one another; they bookend Richard Barone’s career beautifully.
The original album was recorded at New York City’s Bottom Line (R.I.P.); “25” was performed at City Winery. For the Anniversary show, Richard brought back the same four incredible musicians who helped make that first album the masterpiece that it still is: Nick Celeste on acoustic guitar and glorious harmonies; Jane Scarpantoni on cello and Valerie Naranjo on percussion. This quartet was also joined, at points, by Garth Hudson of The Band on accordion and piano, Tony Visconti on bass, Rob Norris of The Bongos, also on bass and several other wonderful, noteworthy musicians. Nonetheless, “25” starts off with just Richard alone, doing “My Wildest Dreams”, an until-recently unreleased Bongos song. Jane Scarpantoni comes out for “Before You Were Born”; then Nick Celeste joins Richard and Jane for “To The Pure”. At that point, the Cool Blue Halo revisitation begins in full with “The Bulrushes”. All the songs from the original album are played in their running order; “Love Is A Wind That Screams” sees Garth Hudson come onstage to play accordion; “The Man Who Sold The World” featured original producer (of Bowie’s version) Tony Visconti on bass. After the original set was completed, more guests came on stage, including violinist Deni Bonet and percussionist Candy John Carr for lively renditions of “River To River”, “Barbarella”, the Rolling Stones’ classic “Child Of The Moon” and Richard’s 2010 “anthem”, “Glow”.
The 25th Anniversary digipak edition comes with the Cool Blue Halo performance; a 2nd disc includes the latter half of the show, along with 1987 home demos for some of the songs that became part of Cool Blue Halo and the third disc is the DVD of the documentary “I Belong To Me – The Story of Cool Blue Halo“.
I recommend this new version highly; I will always recommend the original as a MUST HAVE. Both are available as of October 1; Cool Blue Halo, the original 1987 edition, is now remastered and sounds even more incredible than it did before. And once again, this album will be available through Jem Recordings, where it first appeared in 1987 along with the 25th Anniversary Concert CD/DVD.