Music Reviews
Sass Jordan

Sass Jordan

Live In New York Ninety-Four

Deko Entertainment

Ever since I heard the opening riff and spoken intro to “Make You A Believer” in 1992, I have been a fan of Canadian rocker Sass Jordan. In the storied pantheon of Women Who Rock, Ms. Jordan is often woefully overlooked. This live release from 1994 is a testament to not only her varied vocal skills, but also her ability to interact with a lively crowd, willing to brave a rainstorm to experience her unique performance.

After a brief introduction apologizing for the rain and thanking the crowd for sticking around the South Street Seaport, Jordan rips into a scorching rendition of “Damaged” followed immediately by her first single to get major US airplay, the aforementioned “Make You A Believer,” and we are off and running. The band then transitions into a cover of the David Bowie classic “Moonage Daydream,” choosing to start it off almost conversationally rather than as the bombastic original, nonetheless leading to a raucous chorus. The rest of the set varies between singles and deep cuts from her two most recent albums, Racine and Rats.

Jordan’s vocals range from soaring anthem rock (“Make You A Believer”) to gravelly blues (“Head”) to sultry ballads (“You Don’t Have To Remind Me”) and back again (“Pissing Down”). Her backing band cannot be left out. Playing their hearts out during the downpour, they never miss a beat, with bass player Tony Reyes laying down groove after groove, and the guitars of Steve Salas and Nick Lashley alternating between crunching power chords, tender melodies, and soaring solos.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the drummer. One of the first jobs for the late, great Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) was as the touring drummer for Sass Jordan. It is bittersweet to hear him here, after his tragic death last year. Put on some quality headphones or listen through a good speaker setup to fully appreciate the talent already on display from the young drummer. I won’t pretend to be a drum expert and say that I recognized his playing immediately, but knowing this was his first major tour and that it has been captured for history is heartwarming.

Live In New York Ninety-Four is an unexpected gem. The sound mix is impressive for an almost thirty-year-old live set, with a great balance between the instruments and vocals and just enough crowd noise to give it the live feel without becoming overwhelming. This is one of those albums I didn’t know I needed in my collection until after I heard it. Jordan has gone on to release several albums since this, but here we capture a specific moment in time with a dedicated group of fans, a solid backing band, and a singer who gave it all on a New York stage.

If you ever caught one of her singles on the radio and wondered what else she could do, or if you are a Taylor Hawkins completist, seek this out, and thank me later.

Sass Jordan


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