Chris Isaak has been smooth-talking his way across the international stage since the late 1980s, and though his blend of crooning rockabilly would have likely devolved into schtick by now for any lesser performer, Isaak is the real deal. His latest album, Mr. Lucky, though released to little fanfare earlier this year, is a solid collection of the kind of high-pitched, twangy songs of the broken hearted that the singer has built his career on. So, he he hasn't slowed down yet, and though none of these newer tracks are represented on Chris Isaak: Greatest Hits - Live, they'd have fit right in.
What we do get on this 2005 concert recorded for the television series "Sound Stage" is a collection of 15 songs--12 in the main concert, 3 as bonus tracks--that have defined Isaak's Silvertone sound. Some of them are instantly recognizable. Just about everybody knows "Wicked Game" and the snaking "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing." Some, like the raucous "Notice the Ring" and the country-flavored "Western Stars" might not be so well-known--Isaak even jokingly mentions how the latter was not necessarily embraced by radio--but they fill out the smartly arranged set nicely. There is a good balance of rockers and slow numbers, as well as originals vs. covers. Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man," Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely," and Bo Diddley's "Diddly Daddy," the staple finale of Isaak's concerts, are all represented with fine renditions. There is even a stripped-down acoustic set in the middle of the show, and plenty of the humorous stage banter that is so important to the singer's persona.
Backing Isaak up on this hour-long program is his long-standing band, including Kenney Dale Johnson on the drums, Roly Salley on the bass, and Hershel Yatovitz on lead guitar. It's a tight crew, perfectly in sync with one another, and Isaak is a gracious leader, giving each performer his time to shine. This Greatest Hits - Live program was filmed professionally with multiple cameras, and so we got a lot of angles of the stage and close-up shots of the appropriate band members when they have their solos.
The concert set list is as follows: