Monday, October 26, 2015

King Crimson: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, September 10, 1971

This seems to be one of those shows that fell in between the cracks, not appearing in the band's list of gigs that they did from 1969 to 1974, yet a recording of it exists...and a very good one at that. Of course, it sounds as if it were recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in someone's lap, but I've heard worse than that. And, of course, this lineup of the band is still divided down the middle by most fans. You either like this lineup, or you don't. It took me a while to warm up to them (especially since the 1973-74 lineup--which I heard first for many years--sets the bar pretty high), and hearing more live stuff from them apart from the Earthbound album, I noticed how really good they were, and now look on them as very underrated and undervalued.

The show consists of the usual songs that this lineup did live throughout its existence, but this one has a couple of unique differences to it. This version of "Sailor's Tale" features Mel Collins playing flute and Robert Fripp playing the electric piano during the part where Fripp's guitar solo would be on the eventually-recorded studio version; when it picks up into the ostinato section, Fripp plows away on the Mellotron, making it sound more like something from Lizard than Islands.

The version of "Groon" during this show is over 18 minutes long, featuring Ian Wallace's VCS3-treated drum solo, but also a guitar solo at the end by Fripp that is reminiscent of the one he did at the end of the Earthbound album, but less menacing, and it ends with a final flourish of the song's opening riff, something they rarely did.

This show is on YouTube in separate parts; I downloaded them all and cut them onto CD to listen to (save for "The Devil's Triangle", which wouldn't fit). If you're a fan of this lineup, you'll like it. If you've never heard this lineup live before, you won't be disappointed. It's just a darn shame that there seems to be no film or video of them in existence...that would be great to see!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Who: Chicago, December 8, 1979

This came in the 3-DVD boxed set of Amazing Journey, when it was released in 2007, and you could only get the third disc by buying it at Best Buy. As I watched it for the first time, I recorded the audio onto CD. It wasn't a bad thing to do, as the music was re-mixed from the original 24-track tape.

This was a show from the Chicago Amphitheater, not even a week after the tragic concert at Cincinnati, where eleven people were trampled to death while the crowd was rushing to get into the venue to see the show. You would never know by watching this, although they lightly acknowledge this a couple of times during the show. This was also 15 months after they had lost Keith Moon, and were touring for the first time with a new drummer, so there was quite a lot riding on the band at this time.

But, as Ive said, this is actually quite enjoyable. Pete and Roger, in particular, are out to have a good time, and are in a playful mood while on stage. The songs are played with plenty of energy to spare, far from the lethargy of the 1981 and 1982 tours that most fans remember this lineup of the band being plagued with. With John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, they were able to play newer songs such as "Sister Disco", "Music Must Change" (a surprisingly well-received song here), and piano-driven tracks from Quadrophenia, such as "Drowned" and "5:15".

Kenney Jones....what can we say? He had some massive shoes to fill, and while a competent player, he sticks to playing "four to the bar" on the hi-hat (which doesn't suit songs like "Substitute" and "Baba O'Riley"), whereas Keith would have been plowing all over the crash cymbals, doing it only the way he would have done it. But they needed someone who could play a good, long show, with someone to match the band members' energy.

Since there were never any live shows released from the 1979 tours, from which a good live album could have been made (save for the forgettable Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea), this is probably one of the best post-Keith Moon live shows that's out there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pink Floyd: "More Blues" (Montreux, 1970)

One night, looking through YouTube, I found something by Pink Floyd called More Blues. It was a 2-disc bootleg set, but thankfully uploaded on there separately. Not much of a title, and not much in the way of any details of where or when it was recorded, but I took a listen to it, and was impressed by what I was hearing. A very good stereo recording of the band, sometime in 1970 (definitely by the set-list, anyway), with excellent renditions of "Astronomy Domine", "Fat Old Sun", and "Atom Heart Mother". Also, a great version of "Cymbaline", where the "walking footsteps" section isn't too long 9as it can be on some versions), but the band gets drowned out momentarily by a big, buzzing noise coming through the PA during the final verse, and David Gilmour simply laughs it off.

A very good performance, and with such good sound quality that I often reach for this one to take with me for a spin in the Discman.

The second disc has the final encore of "Just Another 12-Bar", and the rest of it comprises a live BBC recording from the London Playhouse, which I was already familiar with. For the uninitiated, it has the only live performance they ever did of Roger Waters' "If", which could have been a good one live if they'd played it more than just this one time...oh well, at least it exists. And then this was the debut performance of "Atom Heart Mother" (featuring brass and choir, but no cellist, which was replaced by a French horn, which doesn't have the same ring to it).

That show was recorded November 21, 1970 at the Casino Montreux. There was another full show recorded the following night, which is also around in excellent quality, and in stereo for that matter (I think it was recorded on a reel-to-reel). In September of 1971, they played there again, only this time armed with some new material that would soon be released on the Meddle album, but three months after that, the place would burn flat to the foundation when "some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground".