With all those turn-of-the-century festivities hogging the spotlight, this emotion-dripping familial reunion concert by Wynonna and Naomi Judd on New Year's Eve in Phoenix attracted less attention than it otherwise might have.
Still, it seems to have been more memorable for its sentiment than for its music. Mama Naomi, returning to the stage after a hepatitis-prompted nine-year layoff, was in remarkably strong voice. But as usual the blustery, look-at-me style of daughter Wynonna came close to upstaging her.
And producer Larry Strickland limited the duo's set to such Judd standbys as "Girls Night Out" and "Love Can Build a Bridge," passing up a golden opportunity to let them sing "Reunited," "Two of a Kind" or any of a songbook's worth of great together-again pop songs. Nor did Strickland or the Judds invite any of their star buddies to participate, except of course for Wynonna's actress sister Ashley. Serving as the evening's emcee, she delivers a touching introduction and even sings a little herself—albeit in a nondescript way that doesn't suggest she should quit her day job of movie star. The Judds are well served by some splendid backup musicians, including keyboard player Mark Jordan, Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson on harmonica and Fats Kaplin on steel guitar and fiddle.
Die-hard fans probably have all 23 of these songs on various albums in their collections. The unconverted would be better off starting with a greatest-hits package, in which the music is less diluted by hoopla.