VARIOUS ARTISTS: AT&T Presents Stormy Weather (1998) – Unreleased Live Album w/Stevie Nicks, Bjork, Gwen Stefani, Joni Mitchell & others

stormyfrontAT&T Presents Stormy Weather (1998)
Brilliant Unreleased Live Album

This one’s a personal favorite that I occasionally move up to the top, just because it’s obscure enough that people rarely seek it out. Recorded live with a full orchestra at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, Stormy Weather features the 90s top female performers singing lavishly arranged torch songs. Sure, the idea of Gwen Stefani, Sheryl Crow and Bjork taking a live stab at the works of Gershwin, Van Heusen and… Costello? could be a recipe for disaster. And, the fact that this concert was never commercially released might suggest exactly that. (It was mailed out free to potential AT&T customers.) But, somehow… against all the odds, this one hits all its marks. Eagle Don Henley’s pin-drop perfect production, a program of cliche-free material, Mark Isham’s fine trumpet work and some stunning vocal performances combine to make Stormy Weather a laid back, late night groove. Highlights include Stefani’s confident reading of Elvis Costello’s Wee Small Hours homage, “Almost Blue,” stormybackPaula Cole’s gorgeous “You’ve Changed” (putting even Natalie Cole, the program’s standard torch-bearer, on notice) and Sandra Bernhard’s show-stealing cover of Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” Full of lush atmospherics and a respectful dignity no one had any right to expect from this bunch, Stormy Weather is that rare idea that looks dumb on paper, but ends up smelling like a rose. A barely known rarity, and used ones go for under a buck @ Amazon, HERE.

Gwen Stefani – Almost Blue
Paula Cole – You’ve Changed
Shawn Colvin – But Beautiful
Trisha Yearwood – Good Guy
Sandra Bernhard – Is That All There Is?
Sheryl Crow – Good Morning Heartache
Natalie Cole – They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Stevie Nicks – At Last
Bjork – Gloomy Sunday
Joni Mitchell – Stormy Weather

16 Comments

  • 1
    Willard
    June 20, 2011 - 11:47 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    dogbreath
    April 4, 2012 - 04:29 | Permalink

    Can see / hear why this is a fave. Great re-up of a fab line-up.

    • 3
      Willard
      April 4, 2012 - 07:56 | Permalink

      Admittedly, part of the reason I like this is that it came in the mail, out of the blue, and was never officially released. But, the sound is incredible and some of the performances are pretty daring, considering some of the names involved. And… it’s a great late night listen if you like this sort of thing.

      • 4
        Anonymous
        November 17, 2012 - 14:23 | Permalink

        Same here. Year’s ago I got this random this CD in the mailbox. I thought it was some sort of crappy freebie thing. Man, was I wrong. It’s one of my favorites. I have always loved jazz standards and cocktail jazz. This CD is a true gem.

        • 5
          Willard
          November 17, 2012 - 14:26 | Permalink

          It was such a surprise.

          • 6
            Anonymous
            December 5, 2013 - 19:48 | Permalink

            This is not my kind of music at all, but I absolutely love it. Anyone who loves music should listen

  • 7
    Rhod
    April 21, 2014 - 00:35 | Permalink

    Thanks Willard for the nice laid back share

    Regards

    Rhod

  • 8
    G00man
    April 21, 2014 - 03:13 | Permalink

    Very nice. Thanks.

  • 9
    james
    April 21, 2014 - 09:45 | Permalink

    Am I alone in think Gwen Stefani over sings ‘Almost Blue’? No real grasp of the jazz phrasing she needs for this, and constant uncertainty as to whether she comes in before, on or after the beat.

    She’s not aided, of course, by an over-wrought orchestral arrangement.

    It leans more in the direction of Mariah Carey’s constantly shrieking histrionics when balladeering, and leaves a sourish taste in the mouth. By contrast (I know we’re comparing apples and pears), Chet Baker’s trumpet reading of the same song implicit grasps the nuances of phrasing necessary for this.

    And was anyone else drawn to the fact that, having listened to Gwen Stefani & Orchestra, The Attractions ‘got’ everything Elvis required of them, doing just what was required to frame songs perfectly?

    • 10
      Willard
      April 21, 2014 - 13:08 | Permalink

      Over sings? Yeah… you could say that (especially the last line, “almost ba-loooooe”), which might suggest it’s intentional. But keep in mind that this was 1998, when Stefani was known only for her shenanigans in No Doubt… and this was surely her first venture outside of her wheelhouse, in front of a live orchestra. Comparing her in any fashion to a jazz great like Chet Baker is surely stretching the point. You might as well try comparing her to Ella Fitzgerald.

      • 11
        james
        April 22, 2014 - 15:32 | Permalink

        I considered the ‘Ella’ comparison, Willard ;)

        • 12
          Willard
          April 22, 2014 - 16:23 | Permalink

          HA! Gwen Stefani? Ella Guru, maybe.

          • 13
            Horst
            April 22, 2014 - 19:59 | Permalink

            Love to look at her, can’t stand listening to her.

  • 14
    hodah
    April 22, 2014 - 04:41 | Permalink

    I can’t believe it! I love your site, your taste in music and your insights. But I never thought you’d post this one! I too was one of the lucky ones that received this back in the day. The only performance I remember, and the one that made it onto many mix tapes was Sandra Bernhard’s.
    Thanks Willard.

  • 15
    Julien
    April 25, 2014 - 05:02 | Permalink

    Merci Captain

  • 16
    Peter
    April 30, 2014 - 02:13 | Permalink

    Got hold of this by accident here in Oz and like you, was more than pleasantly surprised by all the great versions.of songs I knew well.
    I’ve burnt copies for others who again were quite taken and wondered why it wasn’t a mainstream release.
    At 64 years young, when i hear such good music popping up almost daily, I’ll have no trouble filling the Juke Box On My Grave (apologies to Ellis Paul)

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