Desmond Child – Live

Desmond Child Live cover
Desmond Child
BMG Rights Management
There’s hardly anything that hasn’t already been said about Desmond Child, the “golden child” of a songwriter, responsible for countless hit tunes for the likes of Kiss, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Cher, Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin and many others… many of which topped the charts the world over. In a bit of a renaissance, for the man as a solo artist, DC offers his first commercially available release, since the 80s in the form of his first live album, presenting a selection of hits that he co-wrote with other artists and a few select solo works at they were presented at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York not too long ago, while his biography is set to hit shelves next year, as well as an ambitious foray into co-producing a film and new Rouge material.
But to the matter at hand which is Child’s first live recording. The set begins with a heartfelt and far less hairy, piano laden version of “Living on a Prayer”, a song co-written with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, a song whose traces describe Desmond’s own hardships when he was still trying to make it in the music business. The song has a more soulful flair, with the rich duet of vocals on the chorus, as Desmond is backed by some excellent female harmony vocals… he even quotes some slightly questionable, but nonetheless funny facts as crowd banter, for all they’re worth.
Then he’s joined by Toronto born, Justin Benlolo, guitarist/vocalist for rockers BrknLove, who manages to do a fairly good job on a rather demanding medley through Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady”.
Keeping up with the hits he penned for the Bostonians, we get “Angel”, in another heartfelt rendition, which sounds a lot more soulful, since Desmond’s voice is deeper and more resonant, than Steven Tyler’s more idiosyncratic screaming vocal style. There’s no direct comparison, as this version is altogether a different beast, than Aerosmith’s version.
Another song that shot straight to no1 is the groovy Disco rocker, known as “I was Made for Loving You” ( that Desmond’s co-write with Kiss’s Paul Stanley. Here it’s done in a more “rougey” style, with a bit more pronounced funky/disco vibe. It feels a little less explosive than Kiss’ version, although Mr. Benlolo, who provides vocals here as well, manages to channel Paul Stanley pretty well in the vocal department.
Next up is “I Hate Myself for Loving You” that Desmond proposed to Bon Jovi, but they passed (?!) – so it ended up becoming a massive hit for Joan Jett! To aid in the vocal department, Broadway wild-thing Lena Hall assumes mic duties and does a pretty commendable job… all around.
DC jokes about bickering with Dianne Warren, over it being a career low to be writing for Hanson, a trio of clean cut Christian boys (well back in the 90s at least). well before they made it big with a rerecording of “Mmmmbop” that is… But the song in question here is “Weird” and it’s one of the songs that differs the most from the versions that were “hits” for other artists, since the Hanson version is sung by a teenage boy in a very high pitch, while Desmond’s version is a whole more deeper sounding and more subliminally orchestrated. I do like this version, maybe a little better than the Hanson recording, but I am sure Hanson fans might disagree.
“Where Do I Go from You” is an original that DC has written as part of a Broadway Musical to be titled “Cuba Libre” about the real life of 2 of his aunts, which were “It Girls” in Cuba back in the day and allegedly romantically linked with both Fulgencio Batista (Beba) and Fidel Castro (Miriam). 2 girls, 2 dictators, 1 island, Child jokingly suggests, you do the math… and I suppose he means drama ensued. The song itself, lends itself spectacularly to the genre, with diminutive diva Tabitha Fair making light work of it, with her absolutely huge, warm and evocative vocals.
“How Can We Be Lovers” is a song that Michael Bolton made famous and has a shared credit, between him, Desmond and Diane Warren. JB once more comes to the fore to handle the vocals and he does a fair job, sounding a little less polished and a fair bit more rocking than Bolton on the album version.
Tabitha Fair returns for a rendition of the BJ/RC/DC co-written Cher hit, “We All Sleep Alone” and she does a great job… although Cher is probably a hard act to follow, her timbre and enunciation, sounding rather unique… still it’s a lovely take on a classic song.
The Rouge ladies come on stage for “Love on a Rooftop”, a tune from his solo album “Discipline” that was also done by Ronnie Spector and Cher. It sounds a lot richer than the discipline studio version, with the subtle but very poignant backing vocals by the Rouge ladies.
Then DC goes on about how got back to Miami and decided to apply his “rock hit” formula to the Latin sound… meeting Ricky Martin, who was on his road to becoming a latin superstar meant that the two were able to collaborate on a string of hits, represented here by a highly danceable medley of “The Cup of Life/ Living La Vida Loca/ Shake Your Bon Bon / She Bangs” that might not quite flow all that well, but shakes like a bad mutha… complete with horns and all the bell and big band whistles necessary to pull this off properly.
Desmond lastly gives a very poignant little speech about writing songs and how magical, powerful and moving the experience can be. “You Want to Make a Memory” is a song written for the eponymous Bon Jovi album and here is rendered in a deeply personal, really stirring way… with such passion in the vocals that makes it far superior in some ways to the layered Bon Jovi studio version. While simpler, this version feels a lot closer to the heart and soul. It’s the last song as a pre-recorded “I was Made...” is used as an outro to the performance…
Without being a life changing – live performance – the album feels “live” and bristling with love for the craft and the songs themselves, and has a really genuine vibe the listener can immediately connect with… and that’s magical and fantastic, I’d ask for no more and no less… I suppose, but with DC having songs to probably fill a quadruple set with number ones, the only thing I would genuinely ask is at least another live album. With some rouge songs, and some other songs there as well… a second volume would be most welcome, indeed!