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Jump - The Freedom Train CD (album) cover

THE FREEDOM TRAIN

Jump

 

Neo-Prog

4.00 | 2 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars "This is no recreation people, this is absolute live sensation. This is no means of passing time, we are living on the front line."

In 1998, when this live album was recorded, Jump was at the uppermost height of their career. They had just released what is, in my opinion, their best album, Living In A Promised Land, and before that four other good albums, including the excellent ...And All The King's Men. There simply wasn't a more perfect time for Jump to record their first live album. In the light of this, I must say that the resulting record falls far short of the massive potential. It could have been, and should have been, a lot better than it actually is. Before I elaborate further on why I think this is so, I wish to point out that this is by no means a bad live album. The band is full of talent and the performances are both energetic and passionate.

Some live albums run like "best of" collections, pulling together all, or at least many, of a band's best songs on a single release. Freedom Train is not such an album. With the exception of the brilliant The Pressed Man from Living In A Promised Land and Shed No Tears from ...And All The King's Men, the songs selected for inclusion on this live album are not obviously the best choices. Rather few of my favourite songs from the band's five or six first studio albums are actually present here. As such, the songs on this live album do not always well represent the respective studio albums from which they are taken and nor do they represent the best side(s) of the band as I know them from the studio albums. This live album does not particularly showcase the Prog-side of the band.

Two songs from the band's 1991 debut The Winds Of Change are included here. The Lightbox is a good choice and the sing-a-long-friendly The Freedom Train of course gave its name to this album. The latter is not a bad song, but I wish they would abstain from the embarrassing political agitation! From World Of Wonder comes only one song in the Reggae-influenced Poison In The Sea. While I do like this song, I think that there were at least a handful better songs on that album that I would rather have heard in a live setting. This is especially so as there was room for improving those early recordings. Two songs from ...And All The King's Men made it onto here one of which I've already mentioned, the excellent Shed No Tears. The other one is Judgement Day which, though it is not a bad song, is not among the best songs from that great album. There are many others that I would rather have heard played live.

The Myth Of Independence is allowed three selections in On My Side, Valediction, and Keep The Blues. The first of these is indeed excellent, at least in the verses, and one of the better songs overall on this live album, and Valediction is rather good too even if not particularly memorable, but Keep The Blues is not a favourite of mine. Here too, there are other songs from this album that I would rather have heard. Finally, Living In A Promised Land is represented by two tracks in the aforementioned The Pressed Man as well as Used To The Taste. The latter is a good song too, but possibly the least good song from that excellent album! I guess I will have to "get used to the taste" of the band members regarding which of their own songs are better, which obviously differs from my taste. Besides, I generally prefer the studio versions of these songs. Of the remaining four songs, two would end up on the forthcoming Matthew album (which was presumably under production at the time of this recording, and subsequently released in the year 2000). The other two, A Nation Of Friends and Personal Revolution, are of unknown (to me) origin. These are not remarkable and not up to par with the better songs from the band's studio albums (perhaps they were written for Matthew, but then excluded from that album?).

Though these are excellent performances, I wouldn't say that any of these live versions are improvements over their studio counterparts. My advice is to get the studio albums first, before moving on to this live album. The Freedom Train is indeed enjoyable and a good live album in its own right, but the set list is nonetheless slightly disappointing relative to its potential. I have no complaints about the performances themselves or the quality of the recording, but personally, I would have wanted different songs and a stronger focus on material from especially ...And All The King's Men and Living In A Promised Land.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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