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4 stars This live album has a very good recording and mixing. The Alan Parsons Band included some former members of The Alan Parsons Project (Powell, Elliott,Bairnson) . The "Project" word was not more in the name of the band because Eric Woolfson wasn`t in the band anymore, and as Parsons thought that Woolfson was a very important part of that band, he called his new band "The Alan Parsons Band" (but my CD only says "Alan Parsons" in the cover). The live versions of the old "Project" songs are played very good. Andrew Powell, who did the orchestral arrangements for the "Project" played keyboards in this album,with Parsons and Richard Cottle playing keyboards too. So, the keyboard arrangements and "orchestrations" are similar to the studio versions. I prefer the new lead singers versions to the old songs. Both singers are very good and better than Woolfson, who sang some of these old songs in the studio.In the U.S. the CD was released some months later than in Europe and it included 3 new studio songs ("When", "Take the money and Run" and "You`re the Voice"). The 3 new studio tracks are good. Elliott sang one of these songs ("Take the Money and Run") and he sang it well. This is a very good live album.
Report this review (#5677)
Posted Monday, September 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I never consider Alan Parsons Project / Band in prog category. Though, I never complain about many people categorize it under this box. It's okay with me because some of the music can be categorized that way. I usually call this kind of APP music sort of "ear candy" prog. I have only some albums of APP and recently just purchased this the Very Best LIVE. I love live album as - in my opinion - produces true dynamic music even though with the trade-off on sonic quality. But, it does not seem applicable with this album because I find that the sonic quality is really excellent - very audible to my ears, I would say. The first spin when the album opens with an audience crowd and "Sirius" starts to play, I was stunned with the audio quality. I then turned my amplifier loud and it provided me with great satisfaction to me, audio-wise. Great record!

Whenever I sometime listen to any album of APP ("Tales .." and "The Turn" are my favorite albums) I don't know why I always associate with Pink Floyd "The Dark Side of The Moon" where he sound engineered. I admire his recording capacity. No wonder, all of his albums were produced excellently! When I say "associate" does not necessarily mean that the APP music is of similar vein with Pink Floyd - rather the ways sound produced look like in the same style.

Let me continue with my listening pleasure when I spin this CD. After ambient and atmospheric opening with "Sirius" the music brings me to a medium tempo from APP classic hit "Eye In The Sky" in a happy mood. Excellent album opening. It continues to "Psychobabble" which in a way has a nice combination of rock, pop and a little bit avant-garde. Great composition! "The Raven" continuous the music stream in medium tempo track with some touches of space rock and Mike Oldfield-like music. You know, it's another famous tune from APP. Again, I like to turn my amplifier's volume high because the music is nice and recorded excellently. The piano and guitar solo are stunning. "Never more Never more Never!" uuughh .. Excellent man!

"Time" brings the audience into a slower tempo. "Luciferama" moves the tempo up in more upbeat music with excellent music nuance that stimulates me to keep my amplifier at high level. It's a spacey and energetic tune with excellent usage of musical instrument sounds. Even though the rhythm sounds repetitive but it does not make me boring with the song. The music turns melancholic under "Old and Wise" - my favorite APP song - opened with a nice light orchestration. No human being does not like this melodic composition! (I'm sure!). The melody is really killing. The use of woodwind instrument and sax have enriched the song. The band then brings the music in rock'n'roll style with "You're gonna Get You Fingers Burned".

"Prime Time" is another classic hit performed excellently by the band. I also like "Take The Money and Run" that has a wonderful composition with some flavor of Floyd and pop music. The concluding track "You're The Voice" is another classic hit. Overall, I find this CD is accessible and very enjoyable. I actually regret the band does not include "Ammonia Avenue" in this live act. Oh .. I like the tune very well! Keep on progging!!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia.

Report this review (#5679)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I bought this album because it was very cheap, only 4 dls , i was not searching for it, but with that price, who doesn`t buy an album by a progressive band .

This live album is not so good, maybe for Alan Parsons fans, because it has some classic tracks like "Eye in the Sky" or "The Raven", but for a prog lover this is not the best to listen to, because some songs are too poppish, and lack of creativity, another fact are the 3 last songs are new studio songs, but they have the same poppish and not so good sound, talking about quality and mix of the album , well, we know Alan Parsons is a great engineer, (see Dark Side of the Moon), and this is one of the best points of this album.

It has a emotional introduction, the song "Sirius" is a classic sound of keyboards and instrumental sound, that is the "pre" song to "Eye in the Sky", which is well - known by everyone of us , it is a classic not only of the progressive rock, but the rock in general, (classic doesnt means excellent), but its a good song.

The best part or period of the concert is since song number 3 to the 6th, "Psychobabble" "The Raven" "Time" and "Luciferama" are excellent songs, maybe the proggiest of the album, "The Raven" with great changes and good guitar riffs, is the only song from an progressive album , "Time" is quite relaxing and beautiful, maybe simple but the performance is great, and "Psychobabble and Luciferama" are crazy songs, with notable keyboard sound. After this batch of songs, the prog sound and the beauty is missed, maybe "Old and Wise" is the last interesting track of this concert , because i think the other songs are pretty repetitives and sometimes boring, so for me the concert ends in track 7.

Then the last 3 tracks are new studio tracks, it has a complete sound of 80`s despite it was released in 90`s, because are pop rock songs.

So after all, i dont enjoy it so much, and it is not so progressive rock, for that reasons i think the best place to this album is being a 2 star album.

Report this review (#76047)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
3 stars Alan Parsons - The very Best of. Live

My parents normally do not like symphonic rock-related music, but there are exceptions. For instance: Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons (Project). I kind of grew up with their music and I have good memories of going on holiday in France and listening to what later appeared to be the "I Robot" and "Eye in the Sky" albums. However, now I've grown up and have a better musical insight than in those days. What I thought was most obvious thing to notice while listening to Parsons' music, simply has to be the fact that he has major talent for picking horrible vocalists for his music. There are of course a few exceptions, but nowadays I mostly listen to Parsons' instrumental works. or this live disc.

At one point, about two years ago, I stumbled across this disc in the discount section of my local record shop and I decided to buy it as a birthday gift for my father. Funny though, is that although I gave the disc to him as a present, I am still the person that listens to the disc most often :-).

What amused me most about the album was the sonic quality. The mix is perfectly clear and the audience is well present from the very first tone of opening track Sirius, to the ending section of Standing on higher Ground, the last song included on this disc. Even more remarkable is the fact that I enjoy the vocalists! Perhaps the inclusion of only two lead vocalists makes it a lot more bearable for me to listen to and to enjoy it to the max.

What's also a good thing is that everything is performed live, thus also the saxophone solo in the Old and Wise song.

Most of the tracks on this album are quite clearly the relatively most accessible songs from Parsons' back catalogue. Most of the songs are even better on this live disc than on their various studio releases. A good example of this is the two piece Sirius/Eye in the Sky. This little suite has a lot more vibe when performed live if you contrast it to the studio versions on Alan Parsons Project's "Eye in the Sky" album. Also there is a lot more noticeable guitar playing and soloing included live!

Another part that is superior to its studio counterpart is the psychedelic mid part of the song Psychobabble. It sounds far more chaotic live than on the studio version. Regarding the fact that this chaos is meant to be there at the very moment, I can only say this is a good thing and creates the perfect atmosphere for the song.

The vocals in the song The Raven are also better than those included with its studio counterpart on the "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" album. Especially the vocoder segment is clearer than in the studio mix, clearer as in the fact that the lyrics are better to understand. The song's dynamics also only get better live. The band surely loves to perform, what a vibe!

I also saw that this live album was sold as a double album together with "The Best of Alan Parsons Project," but when compared, I personally think you are better of by buying the live disc on its own, because otherwise you might get disappointed by the quality of the songs on the studio best of disc.

Report this review (#78595)
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars As title indicated, a collection of easy listening classic Parsons-Woolfson songs played live, on European 1994 tour, under Alan Parsons' name as solo artist. The title "greatest hits live" would be more adequate, for choice of songs is like for some compilation, and for these are not the best, but the most popular ones.

The most represented album here is the most successful 1982 "Eye in the Sky", with five (and a half) tracks, starting with "Sirius" flawlessly leading into "Eye in the sky", with fine guitar solo at the end, and more serious "Psychobabble", interrupted with atmospheric and dynamic "The raven" from 1976 "Tales" and calm and dreamy "Time" from 1980 "Card", and concluded with combination of "the one whose name is not allowed to be written nor spoken" from 1979 "Eve" and "Mammagamma", then "Old and wise" and too weak rocker "You're gonna get Your fingers burned", starting the decline of quality of album. So much songs from "Eye" is logical choice, for this record is best seller, but many good and more serious songs from first three albums unfortunately stayed desired. One more song that belongs to better part of the show is "Prime time" from 1984 "Ammonia Avenue". The last three live songs, from 1985 "Stereotomy", "Ammonia" and 1987 "Gaudi" are not up to the level of first seven, sounded too much pop or rock. Of three new studio tracks, the best (and longest) is "Take the money and run" featuring famous drummer Stuart Elliott on vocal, while "You're the voice" is composed back in 1986 (first appeared on former Little River Band singer John Farnham's pop album "Whispering Jack").

If You stare long enough into the red liquid at the front cover, helped with a little imagination, initials "AP" can be read. Professionally played, very good sounding, pleasant but simple, avoiding progressive tracks, but only official live Parsons' record up to now, so three stars.

Report this review (#82073)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The first time I saw this I thought it was a tribute album or something, like the one Andrew Powell did of Parsons tunes back in the eighties. But Alan Parsons himself plays on it, and these are mostly Alan Parsons Project songs, so I guess it’s official. The “live” part threw me as well since I’d never heard of a live Parsons album. But that’s accurate too – this is in fact a live album, except for the three bonus studio tracks included in the American version (which has a different and slightly more interesting cover as well). The tracks come from a 1994 concert in Germany, and feature former Manfred Mann’ Earth Band singer Chris Thompson, long-time Project guitarist Ian Bairnson and drummer Stuart Elliott. Additional vocalists include former Joan Armatrading bassist Jeremy Meek and some guy named Gary Howard.

The production quality is excellent, clearly recorded from the soundboard with crowd noises mixed in during what was probably extensive studio remixing. These types of live recordings are always much cleaner than stage recordings, but like many other similar live records, the vocals don’t sound quite as harmonized with the instrumentation as they would if you were listening from the audience. The only real complaint is with Gary Howard, whose theatrical background is evident in his overly-enunciated and slightly annoying lead vocals, especially on “Eye in the Sky”, “Time”, and “Prime Time”. Eric Woolfson would have been much better of course, but he was off pursuing his own theatrical career at the time, which is why this isn’t called an Alan Parsons Project album. In fact, the label simply says “Alan Parsons”, although apparently the group toured under the name “Alan Parsons Band”.

And this isn’t the “very best” of Alan Parsons’ music either, although it may in fact be his best live music. There are only two instrumentals (“Sirius” and “Lucifer”), neither of which is exactly the best of Parsons’ many instrumental works. I suppose Parsons felt the need to focus on songs with vocals for a live setting, but considering the great sound quality it would have been good to hear “Where’s the Walrus?”, “The Gold Bug”, “Mammagamma” or any of several other tracks such as the ones on his Instrumental Works album from a few years prior to this.

The rest of the tracks are all pretty good ones, but again there are some notable omissions: “Dr Tar and Professor Fether”, “Silence and I”, “Breakdown”, “I Robot”, “Turn of a Friendly Card” among others. The three new studio tracks sound very similar to the rather tepid stuff the Project put out on Vulture Culture and Stereotomy, decent but unspectacular.

This is a decent album simply because it is a rare glimpse of Alan Parsons music in a live setting, and is very well produced so the sound quality is high. But if you’re looking for a true collection of the best music the Project had to offer, the exhaustive ‘Works’ collection is much more comprehensive. By definition this should have a two star rating since it is probably only of interest to collectors, but considering the high quality of the recording and the fact that there aren’t any actual bad tracks, I think three stars is appropriate.


Report this review (#111546)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Alan Parsons plays Alan Parsons Project

Given that the Alan Parson's Project was very much a studio project, it was somewhat surprising then they took to the road to perform live. With the diversity of performers, not only between one album and another but within their albums, inevitably the line up here is considerably pared back, consisting of Parsons on keyboards and occasional rhythm guitar with long(est) time APP contributor Ian Bairnson, vocalists Gary Howard, and Chris Thompson plus a conventional band set up.

The important thing to note here is the absence of Eric Woolfson. Since he did not participate in the 1994 European Tour from which these recordings are taken, this is not the Alan Parsons Project but simply Alan Parsons. Confusingly however, all the live tracks are taken from APP albums!

The subtitle of the album is "The very best of live", and there is certainly no doubt that the tracks selected here are among the most popular and accessible recorded by APP. From the opening "Sirius/Eye in the sky", we are presented with a succession of familiar numbers mixing up-tempo pop favourites ("Psychobable", "Don't answer me") with emotive ballads ("Limelight", "Old and wise", "Time"). The song selection covers a wide range of APP albums, starting with "The raven" from their debut "Tales of mystery and imagination" with "Eye in the sky" being particularly favoured. Albums such as "I robot" and "Pyramid" are however overlooked completely.

The reduction in lead vocalists to two actually leads to a more cohesive feel, although I do have to admit that my admiration for the talents of Chris Thompson leaving me wishing he had sung every track. His performance on "Limelight" is nothing short of sensational. That said, Gary Howard's rendition of "Time" would be hard for anyone to match, let alone exceed. Other highlights include a wonderful sax solo by Richard Cottle on "Old and wise".

The US version, which came out some years after the UK release, has three additional studio tracks which have not previously featured on AP/APP albums. The upbeat "When" written by Ian Bairnson, features Chris Thomson on vocals, resulting in something which sounds rather like a Manfred Mann's Earth Band outtake. Drummer Stuart Elliott provides a rare lead vocal for "Take the money and run", a song he co-wrote with keyboard player Andrew Powell. This sounds much more like an AP/APP song, with familiar keyboard motifs supporting a strong melody and relaxed beat.

The final track is a cover of "You're the voice", a song which provided a huge hit single for John Farnham. It is a touch ironic to describe this as a cover, as it was actually co-written for Farnham by Chris Thompson, who provides the lead vocal here. This rendition brings out the full anthemic quality of the song.

In all, not really an album for the inquisitive, there are plenty of compilations of studio tracks which give a decent overview of the Alan Parsons Project. Fans though will be impressed with the quality of these live versions, and pleased to get hold of three additional studio tracks.

Report this review (#183175)
Posted Monday, September 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a decent best-of compilation, but a mediocre live album. The missed opportunity is obvious when you look at the 1994 setlists and becomes even more glaring when you listen to the one audience recording there is (from the first show). Why did Parsons leave out all the new songs? "Try Anything Once" was a very good start to his "solo" career (which was still reliant a lot on other writers, obviously, just not Eric Woolfson anymore), and the band performed seven songs from it - "Turn It Up", "Oh, Life, "Breakaway", "I'm Talking To You", "Dreamscape", "Back Against the Wall" and "Wine from the Water". Other songs that also got axed are "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You" from "I Robot", "The Eagle Will Rise Again" from "Pyramid" (Gary Howard sang this one exquisitely - what a loss to leave it out) and "In the Real World" from "Stereotomy".

So aside from "Vulture Culture" and "Freudiana" (which was never relased under the Project name and was pretty much buried in the advertising for "Try Anything Once", but it has some fine songs and IMHO beats a lot of the Project's output after "Eye in the Sky"), every Parsons album released til that point actually was represented in the setlist.

This editing also affects the flow of the album, which is pretty much nonexistent now ("Old and Wise" should not be in the first half of anything, let alone a live show), and makes Parsons' announcement of "going back to the Eye in the Sky album" nonsensical since the track before was also from "Eye in the Sky". In concert it made sense, since they had played a number of new songs before. This issue was at least fixed on the US release, which however still doesn't represent the live order particularly well.

Aside from all that, it's hard to fault the album. Chris Thompson especially did a great job with the vocals (but why Parsons didn't have him play guitar too mystifies me, since Ian Bairnson has to shoulder a lot of weight here), while Gary Howard's singing varies a bit more - as mentioned in another review, he does Eric Woolfson's songs with a bit too much theatricality, but "Old and Wise" is spot on. You can hear that the band wasn't particularly well-oiled; there are no obvious "mistakes" but some solos don't sound too convincing, Richard Cottle's two sax solos being the most egregious offenders. Parsons' current sax player Todd Cooper is in an entirely different league, and as much as it pains me to say, the whole American band that he has now plays with more gusto than this group of people that still represented, partially, the original Alan Parsons Project. Again, this effect is not as obvious when listening to the audience recording - there are more mistakes in that one but the feeling of performance comes across better despite the subpar sonics. Maybe this is also because Parsons had (to my knowledge) never produced a live album before.

The added studio tracks are not bad at all ("Take the Money and Run" consists of three different ideas that don't quite gel as a whole, but are all very good taken on their own), but the fact that they have never been officially released in Europe is a disgrace. But at least they give the album a bit more purpose than "here's some of the greatest hits played live".

Summary: If Parsons ever came out with a Director's Cut featuring an entire setlist from this tour, I'd snap it up in a heartbeat. As it is, the album - especially in its original European version - is frustrating.

Report this review (#2783347)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2022 | Review Permalink

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