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Red Jasper - Action Replay CD (album) cover

ACTION REPLAY

Red Jasper

 

Prog Folk

3.02 | 8 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Land fit for heroes

This reviewer is very happy indeed that Red Jasper's entire back catalogue has now been remastered and released on CD (and a brand new studio album in in the pipeline). The remastered series includes all four of the band's previous studio albums (with all the tracks from the 1989 EP Pull That Thumb (Off The Top Of Your Head) added as bonus tracks to the Sting In The Tale remaster) as well as this live album. Unfortunately, Action Replay is not very representative of the greatness of the band. This has everything to do with the fact that it was recorded very early in their career, before their masterpiece album A Midsummer Night's Dream that constituted the band's first mature release. Still, there are some hints here of what was to come.

The brilliant and distinctive lead vocals of Davey Dodds were already present here, as well as the lovely electric mandolins and tin whistles that makes the sound of Red Jasper so unique and wonderful. However, at this early stage in their career they still suffered from a certain do-it-yourself-mentality and slightly "punky" attitude. There is little of the refined subtlety, and nothing of the sonic excellence that would characterise A Midsummer Night's Dream and subsequent albums. The tasteful Neo-Prog sounds that would come to influence A Midsummer Night's Dream (and then go on to dominate Anagramary) had not yet made its mark on the band at this point.

Oddly, the majority of the songs on this live album never appeared on any studio album. This fact makes this album essential for hard core fans, but it detracts from the album's status as representative of the band (to say nothing of the best of the band). Surprisingly, only a couple of songs from their studio debut - the only album they had under their belts at the time of this live recording - appear here. Not one song performed here ended up on A Midsummer Night's Dream that was only a single year away at the time of this album's release. Interestingly, one of the songs later appeared on A Winter's Tale.

The best tracks here are Englands Green & Pleasant Land?, Second Coming, The Shaman's Song, and the traditional King Of The Fairies. These songs are indeed nothing short of brilliant, and these are also the ones that most strongly point toward the great future of the band. But the first three of these these songs are all available elsewhere in even better versions (studio versions). Overall, there are just too many throw-away songs here to make a solid live record.

Red Jasper is a very underrated and highly recommended band, but Action Replay is recommended primarily for fans and collectors. Beginners should check out the band's studio albums first, especially the fantastic duo of A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Winter's Tale.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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