Many people tend to forget that long before Natalie Cole sang her father's songs and performed mostly standards, she was one of the top female artists in R&B during the period of 1975 to 1982. I can remember that Natalie was the singer that we girls in junior high just loved and imitated the most. Known for her searing vocals and sassy homegirl style, she captivated audiences worldwide and was raking up Grammys and all kinds of awards on the regular.
If you own any of Natalie's work from this period, then you totally understand exactly what I mean when I say that she was definitely the QUEEN of the R&B charts! This live 2-CD set is proof of that. NATALIE LIVE! takes us back to 1977-78 and is an uplifting, heartfelt and soulful experience. This is without a doubt, one of the very best live albums I've ever heard, if not THE BEST. The energy of Natalie's performance can be felt going right though you. At times you feel like you're in the midst of a rousing gospel revival. Natalie performs her hit songs ("This Will Be", "I've Got Love On My Mind", "Our Love", "Mr. Melody", "Sophisticated Lady", "Inseparable", to name a few), plus other famous tunes by artists that she admired: Utilizing a similar arrangement that Sly Stone used in his cover of "Que Sera Sera", Natalie brings fire to that song in a way that Doris Day could never imagine. She totally rips up "Cry Baby" and "Something's Got A Hold On Me" in an enviable style that Janis Joplin and Etta James would be proud of. The Beatles' hit "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" is taken for a spin here, with Natalie breaking it down in the middle and Lord, can you feel it! The original Cole songs "I'm Catching Hell" and "I Can't Say No" are so emotionally moving, I can't help but get a lump in my throat when I hear these songs, and forget about hearing them live...the tears are sure to flow! "Lovers", a lively jazz piece complete with Ella Fitzgerald-like scatting, is sort of an unrealized prelude to the kind of material Natalie would be doing later in her career.
Anyone who is a TRUE Natalie fan needs to have this in their collection. And if you only knew Natalie from "Unforgettable" and other material like it, be prepared for a real treat. No matter what she's singing now, Natalie Cole is STILL the diva with soul!