Live in New York City 

(Traffic Entertainment)

Even if you love the Wu-Tang Clan, it's disappointing that the quality control varies so widely among the solo projects of its members -- and live hip-hop recordings are often the last refuge of corner-cutting scoundrels anyway. So the first pleasant surprise about Ghostface's new DVD is that it's a professional affair. Shot with multiple cameras during a gig last autumn at B.B. King's Manhattan nightclub, Live in NYC boasts a clear audio mix to accompany its fine visuals; more important, the performances deserve the effort used to document them.

The show was something of a dry run for this year's Wu-Tang reunion shows, but unlike those often sloppy get-togethers, the interplay here between the bobbing, weaving Tony Starks (aka Ghostface) and his guests is sharp. Most notable is a duet with the GZA on "Liquid Swords," that captures all the murky menace of the original. Killah Priest and Cappadonna also acquit themselves well alongside their more colorful companion, while Starks delivers a stirring tribute to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, covering his signature track, "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."

Those who describe this show as legendary may be stretching, but in light of the evidence, if you missed it, you really did miss out -- until now. -- Dan LeRoy


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