Classic Rock Review

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Genesis Three Sides Live (1982)

From blogcritics.org

How often have music fans uttered the phrase “I prefer the live version”? This maxim applies in particular to Genesis’s hard-to-find US version of 1982’s Three Sides Live, which chronicles their transformation from art rock to more mainstream pop. The story behind the album, however, is just as interesting as the music itself.

I grew up on the US release, which accurately reflected the album’s title. A double-LP, three sides featured ten live cuts from 1981 Germany dates, with Daryl Stuermer (guitar) and Chester Thompson (drums) (both eventual mainstays on Phil Collins’s solo releases as well) rounding out the trio of Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford. Side four contained new studio material, most notably the hit “Paperlate.” However, the UK version of Three Sides Live should have actually been titled Four Sides Live, as it omitted the new studio cuts. The 1994 remaster restored the album to its UK version; in addition to the Germany recordings, this most-recent edition features three songs from the group’s 1979 tour, which featured Steve Hackett (guitar) and Bill Bruford (drums) in the lineup. In my opinion, it’s regrettable that the US version no longer exists, although copies can probably be had through eBay and the Internet.

Three Sides Live represents a crossroads in Genesis’s career, as it straddles the line between their art rock past—headed by original member Peter Gabriel—and their new pop-rock direction, led by drummer Collins. Drawing heavily from their albums Abacab and Duke (also worth checking out), the band displays their cohesiveness, punctuating well-known hits like “Abacab” and “Turn It On Again” with drawn-out, rocking jams. Banks’s keyboards deserve just as much credit as Collins’s forceful drumming in driving the band’s high-energy sound.

Genesis builds upon the album versions of various cuts, re-energizing them with Collins’s enthusiastic vocals. “Turn It On Again,” the LP’s opener, benefits greatly from this makeover, with Collins’s voice directly interacting with the drums and guitar. Like this cut, the live version of “Abacab” vastly improves upon the stiff-sounding original, with the band jamming after all the verses and chorus are finished. Pay special attention to Banks’s keyboard skills on this track, as they really shine on its lengthy instrumental section.

While Three Sides Live largely focuses on Genesis’s more mainstream tone, it does not neglect their progressive rock roots. “Dodo/Lurker,” off Abacab, nods to their artsy, darker sound, similar to 1984’s “Mama.” “Duchess,” a Duke cut, gets a spacey treatment, anchored by Collins’s strong vocals. Perhaps no other cut illustrates the progressive rock and pop duality, though, than “Me and Sarah Jane.” While the opening notes sound like something straight off of Collins’s Face Value or Hello I Must Be Going, they soon dissolve into an arena rock jam, with an almost psychedelic bridge.

Still riding off the success of his first solo release, Face Value, Collins leads the band in a slowed-down, less jazzy version of “Behind the Lines,” combining it with the Duke rendition of the same title. While quite different from the original track, this version sounds more in keeping with the Genesis sound rather than Collins’s overtly pop one.

Where does the “it’s better live” maxim really come into play? Genesis’s spirited performances on “Misunderstanding” and “Follow You, Follow Me” vastly improve upon the originals. While the studio cuts are catchy, the punchier drums and Collins’s extended vocal riffs transform the stiff originals into something more. Another truism of live recordings is that crowd noise can add to the song’s atmosphere, and this particularly applies to “Follow You, Follow Me,” with the audience eagerly clapping along to the beat. Banks also gets an extended keyboard solo, which further increases the song’s overall energy. The crowd also positively reacts to Collins’s extended vocal riffing on “Misunderstanding,” further demonstrating his gift for connecting with an audience. Not surprisingly, his drumming is also a notable feature on this track.

In a final bow to their past, the group delights the audience by performing “In the Cage Medley,” which includes “Cinema Show” from Selling England By the Pound. The US edition ends with “Afterglow,” which demonstrates Collins’s considerable percussion skills. Side four, as previously mentioned, features all new songs, including “Me and Virgil,” “You Might Recall,” “Evidence of Autumn,” and “Open Door;” while interesting, “Paperlate” remains the real standout.

The UK edition of Three Sides Live includes three 1979 tour tracks: “One for the Vine” (from 1976’s Wind and Wuthering), “Fountain of Salmacis” (from 1971’s Nursery Cryme), and “It/Watcher of the Skies” (from 1972’s Foxtrot). Obviously the UK edition—and currently the only version available through iTunes and other music outlets—focuses more on the band’s eccentric but highly inventive past.

No matter which version you prefer, Three Sides Live is still an enjoyable live album, spanning the legendary group’s varied sounds. After listening to these versions of well-known hits, however, you may hardly listen to the studio recordings again. Genesis’s superior musicianship, along with Collins’s enthusiastic singing, comprise the perfect album to crank up when you just want to rock.

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July 25, 2010 Posted by | Genesis Three Sides Live | | Leave a comment

The Who At Kilburn 1977 (& The Coliseum 1969) DVD

From blogcritics.org

At the London Coliseum on December 14, 1969 and at the Gaumont State Theater in Kilburn, North London, England on December 15, 1977, the other famous Fab Four from the original British Invasion era, known simply as The Who, performed two legendary shows for the ages, ones that weren’t digitally restored and remastered until this year.

Known as The Who – Live At Kilburn 1977, this DVD was released in mid-November on standard DVD and Blu-Ray via Image Entertainment. And though its main focus is the 1977 show on disc one, one of the very last shows the band did with powerhouse drummer Keith Moon before his death in 1978, the raw concert footage of the first ever performance of the band’s visionary and groundbreaking rock opera Tommy in 1969 on disc two is a special treat. Call it a bonus bootleg.

Lead singer Roger Daltrey tells his audience at the start of the Kilburn show that the band hadn’t played the songs in their set for more than a year, but The Who showed little sign of rust in this much-loved show. Pete Townshend leads the pack, starting with the influential pre-punk ditty “I Can’t Explain,” where he windmills on his Gibson guitar, does a few jumping jacks and then smoothly launches into the group’s early pop rock hit “Substitute.”

What follows is a sensational version of “Baba O’Riley,” where Townshend plays the first couple of minutes with a tambourine, Keith Moon–with headphones on—twirls, throws up and catches his drum sticks with seeming ease, and Daltrey finishes it off with a concentrated bluesy harmonica solo.

There is also the first-ever live performance of “Who Are You,” which was recorded just two days prior to this show! Seeing as the song was so new, Townshend and Moon improvised the ending before heading straight into the crowd-pleasing, set-closing hard rockin’ classic “Won’t Be Fooled Again,” which had Townshend sliding across the stage during rock and roll’s most memorable scream and pinnacle moment, the elongated “Yeaahh!” by Daltrey.

Speaking of rocking, the band was tight pretty much all show long, though there are little instances of imperfection, such as when Entwistle was a bit late starting his bass line on the Eddie Cochran cover “Summertime Blues.” But heck, nobody’s perfect.

It’s not just the performances that are memorable. Seeing Keith Moon take the microphone and joke with the band, particularly when he claimed he would go backstage and “OD” while the rest of the band played the first couple of minutes of the uplifting “Pale Blue Eyes” was a little alarming given his off-stage struggles, but in the end just a joke.

As far video and sound are concerned, the DVD is in High Definition, and the audio quality of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo are impressive given the many years that have gone by since the show was recorded. Keith Moon’s cymbals truly splash your years in Digital Stereo, and the trebly action of John Entwistle’s bass is a bit more pronounced. But all the instruments and vocals in general sound evenly mixed throughout the show. As I went back-and-forth between audio selections, the only really noticeable difference between the Dolby choices is the somewhat louder audience cheering in Dolby Stereo.

For the much-treasured second disc, The Who’s legendary London Coliseum show in mid-December 1969 (which occurred a few months after its Woodstock appearance), you can tell the camera footage is extremely old by the grainy picture and raw sound. It’s “B” quality at best, considering the problems the show’s recording crew had to overcome, but the producers did a fantastic job remixing and refurbishing the audio and video to as superior a professional level as possible. The band made sure nothing view-worthy was lost, and that’s why you see subtitles that carry nearly every word of Keith Moon’s playful banter with Daltrey and Townshend between songs during this show.

For this show, Townshend’s Gibson guitar and amp combined to air out lots of dreamy reverb, making the type of sounds during clean parts of songs that may remind you of U2’s The Edge. Daltrey’s gritty and soaring vocals are spot-on for almost all of it (as on Kilburn), and his stage mannerisms, microphone spinning and other bodily motions match the energy put out by Moon and Townshend.

The band looks noticeably younger in the 1969 gig—minus the eternally boyish-looking Keith Moon—with Townshend and Entwistle a bit skinnier and totally clean-shaven. Moon though, with his health having deteriorated in the mid-1970s looks a bit slimmer and faster in 1969. Together though, The Who showed the lucky fans before them their inventive showmanship and concert themes, which included a few hits, plus the infidelity-themed mini-opera “A Quick One While He’s Away” (featuring Moon and Entwistle on lead vocals) to start. This was of course followed by the full-blown rock opera Tommy and it’s well-known masterpiece “Pinball Wizard” and the power chord crunchy gem “I’m Free,” among others. Guitarists will especially love the metallic hard rock edge to this show, as compared to Kilburn, right to the very end.

My only substantive criticism of disc two is the decision to put the full performance of Tommy in the “Extras” section instead of the main section, which starts with performances of Who songs like “I Can’t Explain,” “Fortune Teller,” and mini-opera “A Quick One.” Which then leads to a few Tommy cuts before closing with rockers like “Shakin’ All Over” and “My Generation.” Why not have the London Coliseum show run as one show, Tommy and all?

With valuable liner notes from former Spin editor-in-chief Alan Light, Nigel Sinclair and Richard Evans explaining the history behind these shows and the state of the band during these times, you’ll surely learn things about The Who you didn’t know before, including that pre-Tommy, Moon and Entwistle reportedly thought about forming a band with Jimmy Page because of The Who’s infighting at the time. Tommy of course, not only became an internationally successful double album but brought the band back together (until Moon’s untimely death several years later).

Overall, despite the less than top grade audio/video quality of the rare London Coliseum show, with over three hours and forty-eight live tracks, plus pages of insightful liner notes, The Who At Kilburn: 1977 is an outstanding, treasured 2-DVD package and definitely belongs in any longtime fan’s top five must-have live The Who releases—up there with Live At Leeds and The Kids Are Alright 1978 film, to be sure. Would it make a great Christmas/Holiday gift for your classic rock-loving parents? To coin a phrase, You Better, You Bet!

July 25, 2010 Posted by | The Who At Kilburn 1977 (& The Coliseum 1969) | , | Leave a comment

Genesis Duke’s Source Live (1980)

From collectorsmusicreview.com

Lyceum Ballroom, London, England – May 7th, 1980

Disc 1 (59:15): Deep In The Motherlode, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, Carpet Crawlers, Squonk, One For The Vine, Behind The Lines, Duchess, Guide Vocal, Turn It On Again, Duke’s Travels, Duke’s End

Disc 2 (67:49): Ripples, Say It’s Alright Joe, The Lady Lies, In The Cage (medley), Afterglow, Follow You Follow Me, Dance On A Volcano, drum duet, Los Endos, I Know What I Like, The Knife

Duke’s Source Liveis Highland’s second attempt at producing the definitive version of the most famous Genesis bootleg. On the Duke tour they played four shows in London: in Drury Lane on May 4th and 5th and at the Lyceum Ballroom on May 6th and 7th. Three nights (all but the May 4th show) were recorded and two were video taped. These recording were then edited for various broadcasts and official releases.

The earliest and most complete broadcast was in July 1980 on the “Friday Rock Show” which took all the songs from the May 7th show except for “One For The Vine,” which came from the May 6th show. The only omittion was “Say It’s Alright Joe” and most of Collin’s song introductions. “Say It’s Alright Joe” was included in a rebroadcast on December 26th, 1980 and in a broadcast dating from April 1981.

Several tracks from this have been utilized on official releases including “Follow You Follow Me” on Three Sides Live, the green flexi single of “The Lady Lies” (Flexipop 021/LYN 11806) released in august 1982 and “Dukes Travels” and “Duke’s End” on Archive #2.

Bootleg LPs appeared in the early eighties, the most well known is the American produced 2LP set Revelatory Genesis 80:78 (Steam SR 80001), which mixed songs from this broadcast with some tracks from their appearance at Knebworth 1978 “Follow You, Follow Me,” “The Fountain Of Salmacis” and “Burning Rope.” Genesis In Concert (Steamrecords-80001) contains material from this tape along with the April 15th, 1975 BBC broadcast. You’ll Love Us Live(G-Lif-002 A/B) is a poor recording of some of the BBC songs on a single LP.

The earliest compact disc edition can be found on Musica (Stonehenge STDC 2110/2111) and also on Genesis In Concert (Gold Records WARSTR3-C). Highland’s first edition of the show came with their second Genesis release in 1996 titled Duke Side Live (Highland HL019/020#G2). Duke’s Source Live, their second attempt at this show, contains “Say It’s Alright Joe” which is missing from the prior release, and Highland fixed a glitch in “Ripples.” However there is a sequence problem on disc two. “Ripples” should be placed after “The Lady Lies.”

Collins’ stories and song introductions are still missing, so this sounds more like a live album than a true concert. This is, however, the final London show and one of the most intense Genesis concerts every committed to tape. It also has a very rare live version of “The Knife.” Highland also put much effort into the artwork, something they did for Genesis releases. Virtuoso released this show several years after this with the correct sequence and might be an upgrade. However, for those who do not mind that issue, Duke’s Source Live is a phenomenal sounding release worth having.

July 25, 2010 Posted by | Genesis Duke's Source Live | , | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan Thin Wild Mercury Music (1966)

From thedailyconcert

We continue our Dylan-athon with another “must own” set of outtakes and alternate tracks from Dylan’s 1965-1966 studio sessions of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde.

Thin Wild Mercury Music has incredible sound as it is straight from the alternate acetate, however, the order of the songs is a tad odd. On a side note, I am eagerly anticipating the release of I’m Not There on DVD as I missed it in the theaters. With each review I read, I continue to kick myself for not experiencing the film on the big screen. Oh well, at least I have the soundtrack to enjoy while I wait …

Bob Dylan – Thin Wild Mercury Music
01 If You Gotta Go, Go Now 02 She Belongs To Me 03 Freeze Out 04 From A Buick 6 05 It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue 06 Medicine Sunday 07 I Wanna Be Your Lover 08 Keep It With Mine (Instrumental) 09 Love Minus Zero/No Limit 10 Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window 11 Number One 12 Just A Little Glass of Water
13 Pilot Eyes 14 Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window 15 Freeze Out 16 Just A Little Glass of Water 17 Miami Convention Message 18 If You Gotta Go, Go Now

July 25, 2010 Posted by | Bob Dylan Thin Wild Mercury Music | , | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan In Concert – Unreleased 1963 In Concert Album

From thdailyconcert.com

The material presented here is an absolute must-have to any collection. It has been available for many years, but this package blows away every release that has come before. This is the one to own.

CBS was planing this release during the 1963-64 Christmas season, and it went as far as being pressed to acetate. It has long been rumored that the LP cover was completed as well, and this CD purports to be a reproduction of it. It is a beautiful cover, and leaves little doubt to it’s authenticity. The thorn seems to have been the rambling 6½ minute prose “Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie”.

A song missing from Carnegie is Talkin’ John Birch. It, along with this version of Who Killed Davy Moore? was released on the official CBS release Bootleg Series Vol 1-3. The recording has been filtered and EQ’d for this release, and the result is near perfection. The overall aesthetics, quality, and material of this package make it one of the best CD boots ever produced. The Colessum version has a slightly nicer disc, as all songs are listed with a one word title.

July 25, 2010 Posted by | Bob Dylan In Concert | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin: The Boy Next Door (Bath Festival 1970)

From collectorsmusicreview.com

Bath Festival Of Blues & Progressive Music ‘70, Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England – June 28th, 1970

Disc 1 (65:50):  Intro, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You, The Boy Next Door (That’s The Way), What Is And What Should Never Be

Disc 2 (65:34):  Moby Dick, How Many More Times (incl. Mr. Soul/Down By The River/The Hunter/Think You Need A Shot (The Needle) /Boogie Chillun’/Long Distance Call/Honey Bee/Sweet Home Chicago/The Lemon Song /I Need Your Love Tonight/That’s Alright Mama), Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Rock Medley (incl. Long Tall Sally/Say Mama/Johnny B. Goode/That’s Alright Mama/Bye Bye Johnny)

Participating in rock festivals in 1969 was instrumental in Led Zeppelin’s rapid success.  But with Led Zeppelin II hitting number one on the charts by year’s end, they stopped booking festivals and instead made their own appearances an event.  The lone exception was the Bath festival in June.  Zeppelin participated in the first Bath festival the previous year and used their appearance at the second as a way to promote themselves in the UK without an extensive tour. 

Bath would be Led Zeppelin’s final appearance in England in 1970 and would be their last rock festival.  (Knebworth in 1979, although a festival in the strictest sense, isn’t in the same spirit as the festivals in the late sixties and early seventies).

The first unofficial release with material from this show is the vinyl boot Bath Festival 1970 (Krishna Records) which has two songs, “Heartbreaker” and “That’s The Way” in very good quality along with tracks from Johnny Winter, Donovan, Fairport Convention and Jefferson Airplane.  These two songs were transferred onto silver disc on Missing Links (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ Vol. 081), a collection of rarities.

The entire set was pressed onto silver disc many times but utilized a poor sounding audience tape.  But recently the very good audience tape used for the vinyl has surfaced and has been pressed onto The Boy Next Door.  This is a very good but think sounding recording with fair hints of distortion in some passages.  The emphasis is upon the high end with the bass pushed towards the back of the mix.  While it isn’t perfect, it is infinitely superior to the common tape and overall very good at picking up the intensity of the performance.  

The poor tape is used a couple times to fill in some gaps.  It is used for the first fourteen seconds of the introduction,  about ninety seconds after “Since I’ve Been Loving You” to include Plant’s speaking (and some rather loud birds chirping), between 23:29 to 23:42 in “How Many More Times” and for a few seconds before the encore.  The editing is very well handled.

Bath was their second show (after Reykjavik) after a two month break for writing and recording the third album.  “Immigrant Song” opens the show, replacing “We’re Gonna Groove” used the first half of the year.  Led Zeppelin legend relays that Robert Plant wrote the lyrics to the song inspired by the trip to Iceland.  The tune was rehearsed before that, but the words were added that week and are very similar to the final version of the song except they don’t really fit the melody at parts.  It would be smoothed over later.

“Dazed And Confused” clocks in at fourteen minutes, a bit shorter than other versions during this time.  Before “Since I’ve Been Loving You” Plant tells the audience that “eventually will go into a studio and we’ve got nearly to the end of Led Zeppelin III.”

After “Thank You” Zeppelin perform “That’s The Way,” which Plant says is “something a little different, if I can remember the words. You’re gonna have to hold off on the trumpet for half a minute mate, just for half a minute,” he tells someone in the crowd.  “This is really a medley of all the famous Lonnie Donegan tunes, all the really good ones.  Especially for John Bonham” Plant jokes. 

This the first time Zeppelin played an acoustic ballad live before (it’s unknown if the song premiered in Iceland the previous week).  Anytime one takes a risk in presenting something new there is tentativeness, but they do deliver a tight version and it is received well.  “Well, I don’t know what to say” Plant responds to the ovation.

The set ends with a very long and lively version of “How Many More Times.”  It is comparable to the Royal Albert Hall performance the previous January with all of the obscure references and intensity of the playing.  The throw in a version of “Sweet Home Chicago” and during the “Lemon Song” reference Plant stops to acknowledge Robert Johnson, the author of those tunes.  Bath would mark the end of this show showstopper with “Whole Lotta Love” taking its place when they resume touring in Germany in July.

The second encore is a short and violent version of “Communication Breakdown” in which Plant sings what sounds like a line from ”Deep Elem Blues” during the funk section.  Before “Long Tall Sally” Plant gives a long speech to the massive crowd, saying: “We, we’ve been playing a lot in America recently and we really thought that coming back here we might have a bit of a dodgy time, but we’re starting to get a bit. There’s a lot of things going wrong in America at the moment, that are getting a bit sticky, and what not, and it’s really nice to come to an open air festival where there’s no really bad thing happening, and everything has carried on decently. On the news last night, on the television news. They said Shepton Mallet would never be the same, but I think it’s just added to everything that’s here already. So we’d like to do something that we probably owe to people who came a long time before. I think that every group on the scene’s got that a little bit every now and then.”

A ten minute jam on the Little Richard classic closes one of the most intense and exhilarating Led Zeppelin performances on disc.  So far this is the most impressive and important release to come out this year and is essential for the collection.  The Boy Next Door has very good artwork and is the most accessible to collectors. 

July 25, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin The Boy Next Door | , | Leave a comment