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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Soul > Chaka Khan - The Signature Diva Live

Chaka Khan – The Signature Diva Live


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Concert: B



Though only often known for I Feel For You and (particularly by way of the Whitney Houston remake) I’m Every Woman, Chaka Khan is one of R&B’s greatest vocalists and even survived the transition into post-modern R&B forms like Rap and Hip Hop, but the fallout with her once home label of Warner Bros. (one of many between the once-great label and most of its great talent which has yet to be rectified by the new regime and owners) was a huge mistake for the company and a loss for the public at large.


She continues to release great albums and the voice is still there, but a terrific concert from a Roxy Theater appearance on June 7th 1981 has miraculously surfaced on DVD and has been release by MVD and The Quantum Leap Group under the apt title Chaka Khan – The Signature Diva Live.  The concert, running a way too short 32 minutes, features her in prime form on the following:


1)     We Can Work It Out

2)     I Know You

3)     The Melody Still Lingers On (Night In Tunisia)

4)     Any Old Sunday

5)     Whacha Gonna Do For Me? (poorly mislisted as “What are you going to do for me?”)

6)     I’m Every Woman



Backed by outstanding supporting singers and a truly powerful band that includes members Steve Ferrone (drummer, vocalist) and Hamish Stewart (guitarist, vocalist) of the underappreciated Average White Band, Chaka shines with power and joy that are matched by incredible musicality that makes her nothing short of a genius vocalist.  The talent around her, in the way they rally and support her, are most aware of this and the synergy that results is what great music is all about.  Her take on The Beatles’ We Can Work It Out is way up there with Tina Turner’s covers of Help! and Come Together, but goes an even more R&B rout ala Aretha Franklin.  That is not easy by a longshot, but she is that great.  Too bad this could not have been 3 – 5 hours long, but her half-hour is better than just about all of the many full-length (70 to several hours long) concert DVDs we have looked at to date.


The shortcoming of the DVD outside of that is the old NTSC analog taping of the concert, which has some detail troubles and Video Black fading, particularly briefly in the beginning that is definitely from the source tape.  After that moment, things clear up as much as possible for the 1.33 x 1 full frame presentation.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo also has limits; mostly just from being taped at the time when two-channel stereo was considered sufficient, is good if not great.  If ever I wanted a DTS 5.1 mix for a concert, it was this one.  Of course, the power of the performances mow right over any playback limits.  Extras include a two-frame text biography, extensive album discography that includes many hits sets she happens to be on, a singles discography (both of which include all her Rufus works), another text section on awards, a stills gallery, a lyrics quiz for fans, and a separate installment dubbed biography on the main menu that offers a half-hour look at her career from the television series Cover Story that offers pieces of some of her 1980s Music Videos.  Though you will want more too and more Khan DVDs need to be issued, this still makes this one of the best R&B DVDs to date.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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