Classic Live Releases (Part Two)

Well, finally got around to a part 2 of this…. So here’s a few favorite Live sets – old and a few newer.… to be continued….drop a note – leave some recommendations and thoughts!

Humble Pie – Rockin’ The Fillmore [1971]

One of those essential early ’70s double live releases, that captures the energy of the band in their heyday. Interesting that among the 7 tracks on this set – on 2 are band composed, with Humble Pie [like Three Dog Night & Vanilla Fudge] making more out of other artists’ material, done heavier, longer, and with their own sound. Humble Pie rocked the blues, with lengthy jams and so much feel. Recorded at the legendary Fillmore East, in New York [look up the list of acts that played here in it’s brief 3 year run]. Worth it alone for their version of “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, a huge radio favorite at the time and arguably their finest moment. But, there is a pile of great 70s blues and rock here, with covers of Doctor John’s slow paced “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” [clocking in at over 24 minutes, and featuring Marriott on harmonica], Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah”, and Willie Dixon’s “Rolling Stone”. Steve Marriott’s soulful vocals and Peter Frampton’s lead guitar making this Humble Pie’s greatest release [even more so than the hits]. A 4 CD set of all the Fillmore shows was released a few years ago, would be interested to check it out. Definitely an album for headphones or just sit back and take in beginning to end.

RIP – Steve Marriott, Greg Ridley.

Uriah Heep – Live In Armenia [2011]

Since the release of 2000’s classic live set Future Echoes Of The Past [why do band’s feel the need to add some witty title to live albums?], Heep has recorded and released a pile of live shows [albeit many during the early 2000s had different ideas – acoustic show, reunion shows, etc…. none of which are on vinyl!]. After the release of Wake The Sleeper in ’08 the band went on to release a pile of live “bootleg” shows and a series of shows featuring cover art from Ioannis [who did WTS as well as 2011’s Into The Wild]. Of the bunch I really love this 2011 release – on 2LP. First I must add these releases can tend to be a bit repetitive with songs included, especially since they come from the lengthy tour promoting the band’s latest album, and also the sound quality can differ from one live release to the next. But Live In Armenia is given the full treatment as a Heep live release — the sound is great and it comes in a fantastic looking gatefold cover [inside and out] courtesy of Ioannis. And I really like the set list here. Tho I wasn’t initially over the moon about Wake The Sleeper, this live performance [featuring 7 tracks from that album] really brought the songs to life for me in a whole new light. The performance is just outstanding and WTS songs are heavy and so enjoyable here, side 2 being my favorite with “Book Of Lies” followed by oldies “Gypsy” and “Look At Yourself” and ended with the classic standout track from WTS – “What Kind Of God”, in which Bernie Shaw’s vocals and [the late] Trevor Bolder’s bass playing really jump out. It’s also evident on this recording just how much of a shot of energy drummer Russell Gilbrook adds to the band – after blazing through the title track to the band’s latest album, and on to other WTS tracks “Overload”, and later “Shadow”, and “Angels Walk With You” [written by Bolder and highlighted by Phil Lanzon’s Hammond organ solo here]. This is a pretty cool set tho, besides adding 7 [then] new songs, the band includes classy renditions of “Sunrise” and John Lawton era classic “Sympathy” alongside the usual handful of fan favorites.

Anyway, great release, as is the band’s latest Live At Koko, recorded in 2014. Hopefully [and presumably] they’re still recording shows for more such releases in the future, preferably with Ioannis’ covers [makes for a nice set!].

RIP – Trevor Bolder

Black Sabbath – Live Evil / Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil [1982]

These 2 double live sets came out a month apart back in late ’82. I was already an Ozzy fan at the time and a Sabbath fan – with Ozzy. Live Evil was my intro to Dio and that era of Sabbath. At the time both bands would feud in the rock press, usually with some profane bold claims and statements made by Ozzy [during a heavy drinking era]. I loved Speak Of The Devil when it came out [or Talk Of The Devil as it’s called as well]. Sadly Randy Rhoads had been killed earlier that year, but Ozzy’s band carried on as quick as they could. These shows rehearsed and recorded specifically for this release of Sabbath classics, featuring Brad Gillis [of Night Ranger] on guitar, as well as the replacement rhythm section. Ozzy sounds good on this live set and i thought Gillis, far from Tony Iommi – added a fresh sound to the songs here. It’s a solid run through of something from almost all the Sabbath albums [something from Technical Ecstasy not included], and Ozzy back then could remember and belt out all the words, and didn’t fill between song crowd banter with “F**k this” and “F**k that!”. This was Ozzy at his peak after the original Blizzard of Ozz albums, because for me after a couple of decent studio albums with Jake E Lee it was all downhill, and I can frankly live without anything beyond The Ultimate Sin [save for the odd track here and there…and some of Ozzmosis!] . Though the lettering and design on the album jacket looked cool, pretty gross pic of Ozzy on front with a bat drawn over top of him; not much else to the packaging. Ozzy would eventually release a double live set featuring Randy Rhoads years later, but I also really liked the Live EP  that featured the original band with Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake performing “Mr Crowley” and “Suicide Solution” [as well as the non-LP track “You Said It All} – a shame there was no full set release from where those tracks were recorded.

Black Sabbath’s live set at the time featured a pretty cool cover featuring characters from various Sabbath songs and topics [presumably] coming ashore in the dark and plenty of band pics of Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice. I must confess early on that this album was a grower for me at the time, as i didn’t actually get a permanent copy til i borrowed it from a friend nearby – who had a pretty cool record collection at the time, and i eventually borrowed his copy and never returned it! The band’s set consisted of half old Ozzy era Sabbath [so we have half a dozen songs the same on both releases] and half stuff from the band’s 2 albums with Dio at the time. Not sure how comfortable Dio was singing the Ozzy era stuff, but i thought he added a heavier and darker feel to “NIB”, at least. It is the tracks from Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules that make this such a great release – “Neon Knights”, “Children Of The Sea”, “Sign Of The Southern Cross” and an extended “Heaven And Hell” – with Dio’s crowd boosting . These guys were brutally heavy at the time, and so more professional sounding than the Ozzy era of Sabbath [hear any late 70s live Sabbath w/ Ozzy and note the difference]. Sadly after this release the band had split, with feuding in the press — Dio and Appice leaving to form ‘Dio’ and Sabbath carrying on a downward spiral of albums and line-up changes [tho some great singers came through the band – Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin]; and despite some decent albums to come Live Evil marked the end of a magical period for the band. Was glad to see that this line-up reformed in the future, I liked  The Devil You Know and the last live recording  Neon Nights : Live In Europe,  from 2010. RIP RJ Dio.

April Wine – One For The Road [1985]

The first time I saw Canada’s own April Wine was in 1984, at The Kingswood Music Theater, at Canada’s Wonderland, just north of Toronto. Back then the Kingswood had regular big name band concerts. Didn’t realize it at the time, until we saw the concert shirts – but this was to be the band’s farewell tour, as they were breaking up. The 5 piece line up of Myles Goodwyn, Brian Greenway, Gary Moffet, Steve Lang, and Jerry Mercer had released a string of big selling albums since Greenway joined for First Glance.  The band peaked with 1981’s Nature Of The Beast, but subsequent albums Powerplay [a bit soft] and  Animal Grace lost some momentum. It was the end of one of the country’s biggest bands [for a few years], but they went out with a huge stage show, and a lengthy classic set. However, I recall being confused [and later annoyed] that when this Live album came out a year later, to commemorate that farewell tour – the release had been chopped down to 1 LP! Hmm. Anyway – One For The Road was a great live album, showing the band with 3 guitarists in full force. This release focused on the band’s material from late ’70s onward – with the classic intro song “Anything You Want” leading in to “I Like To Rock” and hits “All Over Town”, “Just Between You And Me” and “Enough Is Enough” [sounding better than the clean cut studio version] closing out side one. Oddly, only 1 song from the band’s then-latest album featured on the tour and on the LP – the hit “This Could Be The Right One” [and I liked Animal Grace – a shame a few more weren’t performed], before the band strikes with their 2 biggest live rockers – “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen”, followed by a medley of ballads [!] and their first US hit “Roller”.  A blistering live set, but sadly not the whole show. The album cover was colorful, but merely a live band pic on front and individual live shots on the back, and lyrics on the inner sleeve … really [lyrics accompanying a live album!?] The 1993 CD release added 4 rockers [and in order] – with “Before The Dawn” and “21st Century Schizoid Man” [both featuring Greenway on vocals], and “Oowatanite” [clocking in at over 12 minutes w/ Jerry Mercer drum solo!]. A bit confusing as I see the song titles are listed at different lengths of time on the LP to CD; tho [thankfully] the CD version of “Sign Of the Gypsy Queen” adds a couple of minutes. Would be cool if someone got ahold of the whole show and released a full unedited version of this show, and added some photos and words to the packaging! This LP marked the end the band’s ‘classic’ 3 guitar hard-rock line-up. The band returned in ’92 w/ Goodwyn, Greenway, Mercer, Jim Clench [RIP] and Steve Segal and released 2 albums, most notably Attitude in ’93. A  Live Greatest Hits release [including Carl Dixon adding guitar and keyboards] was released a decade later – a good set, but it does lack a good bit of the power and energy that the band had during the early ’80s, captured on One For The Road.

Europe – Live At Sweden Rock Fest [30th Anniversary Show] – (2013 EarMusic)

Often the live album is seen as a point in a band’s career to celebrate longevity, a big catalogue of hits, some sense of making it so far, and this is a perfect example of a band with something to celebrate and a big catalogue of latter day classic rock to put together. Might I add – there’s nothing more lame than a “best of live +1” or “hits live + new recordings!” – bad idea, (see Kiss Alive 2!) but for anyone who either wrote this band off for their poodle hair-metal days of the ’80s and who hasn’t given them a new listen since reconvening in the mid 2000s, this is about the best place to start! [Though I’d also highly recommend the band’s latest studio album War Of Kings, as well as 2011’s Live at Shepard’s Bush, London]. 3 LPs — 28 songs! This show was done while on their Bag Of Bones Tour, so it pulls the first 3 songs from it right off. Bummed that the epic title track is not included in the set, but oh well. It’s a vast amount of newer and old songs from the band’s catalogue, going back to include 3 tracks from each of the band’s first 3 albums and a few from every one since! [tho 2004 comeback album Start From The Dark only sees the title track here]. Regardless, this is a great live set — 6 sides of vinyl — the 80s stuff sounding heavier, less “80s” and more classic rock, and everything just comes off as one huge magical performance. These guys sound like they’re having a blast – all the original guys – John Norum, John Leven, Mic Michaeli, Ian Haugland and Joey Tempest. Gotta love their up to date delivery of old rockers like “Superstitious”, “Girl From Lebanon” – with a cool bluesy intro from Norum and “Wings Of Tomorrow”, as well as keyboardist Mic Michaeli’s intro that leads into the latter day classic anthem “No Stone Unturned”; a fave group of songs that also includes “Firebox”, “Always The Pretenders”, and “Last Look At Eden”. Cool lighter moments include “New Love In Town” and the Zep influenced “Drink And A Smile”.

Being a special occasion show, the band pulls off 2 covers by perhaps 2 of their biggest influences [and certainly bands their newer material sits comfortably alongside] – with Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” [Scott Gorham guests on guitar!] and UFO’s “Lights Out” [w/ Michael Schenker joining them on stage].

Great packaging – with full color sleeves, tho the LP set could use another fold….or some inserts 🙂

*Also have Live At Shepard’s Bush from 2011. A great [shorter] set well worth hearing. Only miffed that this release isn’t on vinyl and the DVD includes more songs than the CD.

KJJ , 02/16

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