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Dan Bern Live In Los Angeles

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Album Review

Dan Bern has built his career on the strength of his live shows and his relentless touring, but he resisted the urge to put out a live record until late in 2010. Live albums are notoriously hard to market, and in the day when record labels dominated the music business, they were often ploys to make a bit of cash while waiting for an artist's next "real" album. Being an independent artist, Bern doesn't have those concerns, and when he made his live albums (Live in Los Angeles and its companion piece, Live in New York), he went about it in his own fiercely independent way. Live in Los Angeles, a showcase for Bern and his guitar, has 18 tracks — almost an hour and a half of music — with nine songs Bern has never recorded and one familiar tune from the soundtrack of Walk Hard, the stunning love song "Beautiful Ride." There are a lot of Bern hits here, including "Tiger Woods" and "Too Late to Die Young," but it's the new tunes that make this album a keeper. "Most American Men" dissects males' concerns with breast and penis size, among other matters, with keen insight and arch humor. "Fascist" examines the rage that well-meaning people can feel when they're faced with everyday irritations and rudeness; it's a more visceral version of Phil Ochs' "Love Me I'm a Liberal." Bern shows his more romantic side on "Party by Myself," a sad portrait of a guy trying to survive a drinking problem and a dead-end job. The only tracks that don't really work are the topical tunes "Osama in Obamaland" and "The Fifth Beatle." Bern retired "Osama" the day after Navy Seals assassinated Bin Laden. It traces Osama's underground life in the U.S. — he hangs out with George Bush, who teaches him to "speak American," and hires O.J. Simpson's lawyers to get him acquitted of all charges. "The Fifth Beatle" touches on the band's breakup and what might have happened if they'd stayed together (and alive) to make albums with Dylan, Hendrix, and Neil Young. Bern used a similar conceit years ago on "Talkin' Woody, Bob, Bruce and Dan Blues" to better effect. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

A must have for Bern fans

After following Dan Bern for nearly 15 years, he has finally released a live album. I've come back and forth to Bern's music over the years. At times, it seems he has tried too hard to get on the radio, and then followed it up with something that is painfully too much a joke. But then there are those times when his music has such raw force and intellectual clarity that I wonder why he's not headlining festivals across the country. He's at his best live with an acoustic guitar in his hands, and that is what this album offers. While there are some songs on here I would quickly switch for others that have a more tender or serious tones, it's truly worth having. And if you haven't been exposed to a live Dan Bern performance, this album will reveal why most everyone in attendance comes to sing along.

Fantastic live performances

I too wonder why Dan Bern is not yet a household name. This album is wonderful and you should buy it at least for its version of The Golden Voice of Vin Scully which is a masterpiece on several levels.


Born: July 27, 1965 in Mount Vernon, IA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

With the release of his 1997 self-titled debut, Iowa native Dan Bern became the latest, following the likes of John Prine, Elliott Murphy, Steve Forbert, Loudon Wainwright III, and numerous others, to wear the "new Dylan" mantle. With an acoustic guitar, a batch of sharp, witty, insightful songs, and a delivery reminiscent of the man himself, Bern left his home in the Midwest for L.A., where he assaulted the local folk scene. He subsequently made his way to various clubs and festivals nationwide,...
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Dan Bern Live In Los Angeles, Dan Bern
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Customer Ratings


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