Before it became a somewhat famous regional barbecue house (I kid, I kid!) red, hot and blue was another name for the Red Hot Organization, a group designed to help fight the AIDS epidemic. Back in the early and mid ’90s kids, AIDS was raging on through the land, and Ronald Reagan did nothing to stop it. In fact, he was injecting homosexuals with AIDS while delivering crack into the ghetto.
Liberal accusations aside, this republican does acknowledge that AIDS is a terrible disease and we have lost a lot of people (talented or otherwise) to it, and the efforts made by various communities have been admirable. The Red Hot Organization was another in a group of musicians and artists that wanted to do something about research and awareness. The unique slant on their entertainment message was to have various artists of the time cover some old Cole Porter songs (Porter was a well-known homosexual composer whose life Kevin Kline depicted in the film De-Lovely). Not that unique you say? Well, the artists also did some videos directed by some famous (or at least recognizable) directing names, which is where we come in. The videos (and a remastered CD of the songs from the “Red Hot + Blue” album) have been released for everyone to relive again.
It was a bit of a surprise to see some of the directors attached to this project. Among the directors involved in this project are Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), Mark Pellington (The Mothman Prophecies), Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy), Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers) and John Maybury (The Jacket). They help give vision to covers like David Byrne’s catchy “Don’t Fence Me In”, Neneh Cherry’s sultry “I’ve Got U Under My Skin” and Tom Waits’ “It’s All Right With Me”. Among the other eclectic artists on this compilation are Sinead O’Connor, The Neville Brothers, U2, Annie Lennox and Debbie Harry (in a duet with Iggy Pop).
Ultimately though, the concept may have seemed inspired at the time and some of the songs are good, I could never really get into it, especially when this same concept was mirrored (without the charity donations) in Kline’s film. The other problem when you do something like this with a variety of artists is that it automatically becomes dated. But the cause is noble, even if the music is somewhat underwhelming overall.
On the videos alone, they sound OK, but the bonus CD has been remastered and sounds a LOT better than the sound on the videos. Play the videos but listen to the CD, as it’s worlds better. Why the remastering couldn’t have been done for the videos, I dunno.
In 1995 none of us were really thinking about widescreen viewing as far as I know, so the full frame treatment is what you get here. There appears to have been little work done on the videos for the new version, the only thing that is close to clear on the disc is a live performance of “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” from Lennox. Otherwise, this is a bit lacking.
Well, the CD is the bonus of course, and it sounds great, but if you’re talking about DVD bonus material, then the only thing included was the above-mentioned Lennox performance, and it’s quite good.
Those who enjoyed the Red Hot project when it came out will be thrilled to know that the CD is back and sounds better than ever, and the videos are included to boot. While the videos look quite shabby from a presentation standpoint, the songs are OK, and that in and of itself makes it a mild recommendation to own for some folks.