VARIOUS – THE BEST OF THE TODAY CONCERT SERIES – VOL 2
Review by William Ruhlmann
The second volume of excerpts from the performances in the plaza of New York's Rockefeller Center for the weekly morning TV program the Today show is considerably hipper than its predecessor. Somebody noted the ages of the veteran acts featured on the first volume and skewed this one younger. There's even a teen pop act, 98°, accompanied by the expected screams. Contemporary performers like the Corrs give a good show for themselves, and Sugar Ray makes a special effort, perhaps because lead singer Mark McGrath correctly sees his future in television. But youth is no guarantee of quality, as the obnoxious Jewel demonstrates by instructing the audience that she is going to sing her new "radio single," and that they must go home and call their radio stations to request it, then turning in one of her typically mannered performances. Jimmy Buffett, no spring chicken, is a crowd-pleaser, which is no surprise since he is primarily a live act, and Chicago brings energy and precision to its performance of "Old Days," belying its veteran status. Gloria Estefan closes the proceedings with a medley of her up-tempo Latin pop hits, acting just as if it's almost 11 p.m. instead of before nine a.m. Happily, the "interviews" conducted by the obsequious hosts are kept to a minimum this time, though Katie Couric embarrasses herself by ogling Sting. An undisclosed percentage of profits from the record go to colon cancer research.