THE JEFF HEALEY BAND – Live At Montreux 1999

THE JEFF HEALEY BAND - Live At Montreux 1999


Eagle Rock Entertainment
Release date: September 19, 2006

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The Montreux Jazz Festival was founded in 1967 and has established itself as one of the most prestigious annual music events around the world. This DVD, for the most part, except for a 4-track bonus set recorded at the 1997 festival (24 minutes), was recorded on July 3, 1999 (76 minutes). The festival itself ran from July 2 to July 17, 1999. The CD, with their inherent time constraints, takes up a little more than 78 minutes (12 songs). This item was actually released back on May 3, 2005 as a DVD-only package containing the 1999 festival footage. It was re-released on September 19, 2006 as a DVD + CD Collector’s Edition package containing both 1997 and 1999 festival footage.

Playing his Fender Stratocaster flat on his lap, Jeff has not only developed an instantly recognizable style of playing, but more importantly, his own sound. Jeff tried the normal way and technique that most players use to play this sort of instrument, but took a dislike to it immediately. By laying his instrument flat on his lap, not only could he use all four fingers like most guitarists, but he learned to add his thumb to the mix, which, in turn, made him able to play notes and create sounds other musicians were desperately trying to copy. Most of the front rows of any of his concerts are usually taken by musicians from all walks of life trying to watch him, study him, learn from him, etc. Jeff has been blind since the age of one, and he had to teach himself how to play. One could say he did one hell of a job couldn’t they?

Witnessing him ring out note after note is a true testament to his exceptional talent, skill, and inner drive. To witness him on the job doing what he loves best is indeed a unique experience. To watch him play his guitar with such feeling is almost as good as it is to listen to him. Once he hits that first note, he is transcended into another world. Look at his face and watch his facial expressions. To him, time stands still or ceases to exist when he is performing, but in that moment, why would it even matter?

In watching Jeff perform live, you will see that he likes to flirt and mix it up a little with his audience when he gets the chance. It turns out that Jeff is quite the comedian up there on stage. At times cute, but then there are times when he is actually funny. He isn’t afraid to go off course and leave that place he puts himself in when singing and strumming away. He has a gift for turning something negative into something positive, and doesn’t let a miscue upset him or set him back while in front of a crowd. Being the consummate professional, he takes advantage of a situation as such and gets the crowd behind him full force. Not many performers can get away with what he dares to try in a live setting. Even the give-and-take routine he does with his fellow guitarist Pat Rush during “Roadhouse Blues” is quite entertaining in itself for the fans, and he also shows his comedic side a bit when his string breaks in the middle of the song.

The Jeff Healey Band has seven albums to their credit. The debut album entitled See The Light came out in 1988, followed by Hell To Pay in 1990. These two LP’s make up the majority of the material found on this DVD. Cover To Cover, their fourth LP out in 1995 was just that, an album comprised of all non-original material. This makes up the remainder of the DVD for the most part.

One can attest to the fact that Jeff’s roots are heavily influenced by the Blues. Jeff performs Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down,” Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and the Albert Collin’s classic “Put The Shoe On The Other Foot.” “Angel Eyes,” a John Hiatt song, is another one of Jeff’s staples that he goes to on such occasions. It was this song that gave him his first hit single off of his debut album. Jeff also does a Mark Knopfler tune, “I Think I Love You Too Much,” who happened to be a guest on Jeff’s second album.

Some other popular songs included in his 1999 set list are the following:
The Stealers Wheel “Stuck In The Middle With You” (not a Beatles or Dylan song). This band were Scotland’s version of CSNY whose main founders were Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. Rafferty went onto a successful career and is well-known for his own “Baker Street.”
Next in line is “Roadhouse Blues,” which was a brilliant remake of the Doors’ version of the song. It was used in the movie Road House featuring Patrick Swayze. This song helped make the band more popular. People wanted to watch the movie to hear the song, and because of the song, people had an inkling to watch the movie.
“See The Light” comes from the same titled LP and Jeff lashes out in his own fury near the end of that track.
“My Little Girl,” “Third Degree,” and “I Can’t Get My Hands On You” even out the set list.

The bonus 4-song set list from the 1997 festival has George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Also in this set is Jeff’s own “That’s What They Say,” from his debut LP. These two tracks were only featured in this set, and again on the CD.

The Jeff Healey Band line-up for the 1997 show was the same as it was for the 1999 show, except for one change. The guitarist used in 1997 was Philip Sayce whereas Pat Rush was used in 1999. Joe Rockman covered bass. Tom Stephen handled drums. Last but not least, Jeff Healey took control of lead guitar and vocals for the most part.

Jeff was honored to play the Montreux Jazz Festival, but admits “I’m as happy to sit down in a jam session with my next-door neighbor as I am at a big gala production. I really, truthfully, enjoy a chance to play.” Such a humble and talented musician may never have spoken truer words. This DVD/CD combo has probably been long overdue. Finally it’s here for all to enjoy and witness.


  • George Fustos

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he's really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being "the best band out there today."

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