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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Righteous Brothers Give Fans Times of Their Lives

January 26, 1988|DUNCAN STRAUSS

When you say that a Righteous Brothers concert these days is the kind of show you could take your kids--and your parents--to, the comment cuts both ways.

On one hand, performances by Orange County's favorite singing non-siblings are typically warm, folksy affairs, top-heavy with moldy-but-goody hits.

On the other hand, there's more of rock's energy, rebellious spirit and sense of adventure when a band such as the Replacements is warming up than anything that happened during the Righteous Brothers' concert Sunday at the Hop in Fountain Valley.

But if the show wasn't exactly bristling with excitement, risk-taking or new music, it did extend the duo's tradition of bridging the generations. The Hop, which is owned by Brothers Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, was absolutely packed Sunday, and the crowd comprised a remarkable range of ages.

During an exchange with the audience, about special occasions, the Brothers found one couple attending for their 43rd anniversary. Another guy, celebrating his birthday, then pointed out that the couple has been married longer than he had been alive.

The Brothers proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday/Anniversary," before moving into a number Medley introduced as "a song we've been singing about 20 years--maybe longer." That was 1965's "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' ," the pair's first Top 10 hit and one that ultimately reached No. 1.

From the opening lines, which Medley delivered with that deep, deep wall-shaking voice of his, through the final notes, the Brothers turned in a great version of the tune, showing that they've retained (or recaptured) that soulful feelin'.

Same goes for their rendition of another 20-plus-year-old No. 1 smash, "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," as well as a host of other rock 'n' soul nuggets they dusted off Sunday, in which they were well-supported by a solid quintet and two female vocalists.

Particularly interesting, though, was the way the duo handled "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," the recent hit from the sound track of "Dirty Dancing" that Medley sang with Jennifer Warnes.

Now, it's been more than a dozen years since the Brothers scored their last hit, and Hatfield hasn't exactly been burning up the charts as a solo act.

So given Medley's success recently with the tune--it hit No. 1, won a Golden Globe award Saturday and has been nominated for a Grammy--it was hard to guess how, or if, the song would figure into Sunday's show.

Would the Brothers ignore it? Would they perform it but downplay it? Would they sing it as a duet with Hatfield taking the Jennifer Warnes part?

No, no and no. They faced the potentially sticky situation head on with humor, using a lead-in to the song as another opportunity to engage in their sub-Smothers Brothers shtick. Hatfield launched into a deadpan introduction of a song he said he wrote, recorded as a duet with Barbra Streisand (though, unfortunately, "Babs couldn't be here tonight") from a film he starred in.

Medley stepped in to correct Hatfield on a few points (he didn't write the song, record it with "Babs" or appear in the movie) before easing into "Time of My Life," trading vocal parts with the female singers while Hatfield took a break.

If that was something for the younger fans--and Medley's moment in the spotlight--the very next number was the reverse: "Unchained Melody," a 22-year-old nod to older fans that served as Hatfield's solo turn.

Of course, the set contained a lot more music of the "Unchained Melody" vintage than the "Time of My Life" vintage. And that probably keeps the audience composition just the way the Righteous Brothers like it. But would it be that a big a demographic disaster to add a few more contemporary songs and drop one or two of the cocktail-lounge medleys?

Would it?

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