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Agitation Free - At The Cliffs Of River Rhine CD (album) cover

AT THE CLIFFS OF RIVER RHINE

Agitation Free

 

Krautrock

4.00 | 51 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The second posthumous live album from the Berlin-based Krautrock jam band is another winner, despite having a more conventional playlist compared to the far-flung explorations of "Last", which appeared shortly after the group first split in 1974.

This one arrived over twenty years later, but the belated release date wasn't accidental. Guitarist Lutz Ulbrich was in the process of getting the band back together in 1998, and dusting off an old concert recording was an expedient way to rekindle interest in a cult act out of the public eye for almost a quarter century.

The live tapes were restored from a much-bootlegged radio broadcast, recorded in Cologne on February 2, 1974 (nine months before the breakup), and sound excellent for their age. The setlist, for better or worse, was drawn almost entirely from the band's 1973 sophomore LP "2nd", faithfully reproducing over half the album (and in sequence). The single digression is the album's long, opening improv "Through the Moods": classic Agitation Free, showing the group at its telepathic peak.

It's true that the concert renditions stick pretty close to their studio role models, unlike the extended jams on "Last". But the performances all have that vital spark only attainable on stage, revealed here through the intertwined guitars of Ulbrich and Gustl Lütjens, and held in place by the textured aura of Michael Hoenig's keyboards: otherworldly icing atop an already cosmic torte.

At least one re-issue (the '08 Revisited Records CD, without the original Maxfield Parrish-meets-Roger Dean artwork) includes a nine-minute bonus, "Big Fuzz": an embryonic and at times almost funky jam from a show two years before the Rhine River gig. The sound quality takes a nosedive, but the extra track is a welcome slice of high-water Krautrock, like the full album an unexpected gift to fans, freshly exhumed from the vaults.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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