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Porcupine Tree - Spiral Circus Live (LP)  CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree

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5 stars This LP is a great choice of early live performance from Porcupine Tree. We have here everything what's best before Sky Moves Sideways. In general music on this album is 100% Psychedelic/Space Rock. Each song is full of psychedlic sounds and groove.
Report this review (#124826)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very interesting live release of early "Porcupine Tree" songs. The mood goes from symphonic, metal, spacey to fully psychedelic. You can find all these elements during the opener "Burning Sky". A great musical experience, I tell you. Most of the songs come out "Up The Downstair" (four out of six tracks).

"Voyage 34" their famous "trip" which is cut down here to only five minutes and which is really a good excerpts of the whole and "Radioactive Toy" one of their anthems from "On The Sunday Of Life" (but it was already featured on early tape material) do not come from this album. Beautiful spatial atmosphere for this track. This version is probably the best one available.

This release is really a good overview of their early work. On par with "Coma Divine" IMO and a perfect companion since only two songs are featured on both live releases. I wouldn't say that this is a masterpiece, but when you have six great PT numbers on a live album, you are very close.

Well, actually "Up The Downstair" and "Not Beautiful Anymore" are a bit weaker but fully belong to this "voyage".

Four stars for this excellent live effort and a very good idea to have released this one.

Report this review (#140143)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Spiral Circus is the first live album released by Porcupine Tree in April 1993, the period of Up The Downstair and is the first album to include the band as it was then all playing together on their first ever tour. The album name is a reference to the song The Sky Moves Sideways despite the song not being on this album however that may be due to the fact that their next album The Sky Moves Sideways had not been released yet.

Steven Wilson - Guitar and Vocals

Richard Barbieri - Keyboards and Electronics

Colin Edwin - Bass

Chris Maitland - Drums and Backing Vocals

On to the tracks where the first 3 tracks are from a mixture of the BBC and Borderline, London. The last 3 tracks are from recordings made at The Nag's Head, High Wycombe on the 4th Dec 1993.

1) Burning Sky - This track is from the album Up The Downstair and was the first half is from the BBC live broadcast on the 6th Dec 1993 and the second half is from the Borderline, London on the 7th Dec 1993. The track is very good quality considering it is 2 different recordings for that time and espcially since it was realeased on cassette.

2) Voyage 34 - This track is from it's own single and is the classic drug trip song from Porcupine Tree which at one point was to be a part of the album Up The Downstair and this was recorded at the Borderline, London on the 7th Dec 1993. This recording is not the full version and only comes in at 5.34 minutes long which i think spoils it as well as a slightly less better sound quality.

3) Always Never - This track is from the album Up The Downstair and was a live broadcast from the BBC on the 6th Dec 1993. For me the sound quality is not mixed well between the instruments and the vocals which again spoils it.

4) Radioactive Toy - This track is from the cassette album Tarquin's Seaweed Farm and is not the better extended version in my opinion and for that matter this live version is still even a minute shorter than the TSF version and again the sound quality is poor.

5) Up The Downstair - This track blends in straight from the end of the previous and still suffers the same sound quality if not worse espcially when the electronics and ambience comes in half way through the track. The quality is dreadful when the beat comes in after the ambience and probably would have sounded better being there to hear it.

6) Not Beautiful Anymore - This track is from the album Up The Downstair and being from the same recording as the previous 2 tracks, it suffers from quality.

This album is for collectors and hardcore fans only because of its poor sound quality. This album for me just sounds like an unofficial bootleg recording rather than a genuine album from Porcupine Tree and does not nearly sound as good a quality as Porcupine Tree would later introduce to their albums including their live ones. However this could be due to the fact that these are recordings from their first tour and are also playing together as a proper band for the first time. Not a live album that i come back to listen to and i much prefer to hear the studio albums if i want to hear these tracks.

Report this review (#288482)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
2 stars Porcupine Tree's live album "Spiral Circus" actually first came out in April of 1994 and was originally only available on cassette that was given away to subscribers to the information service available during 1993 ? 1996. It was later reissued (in 1997) on violet vinyl with 500 copies pressed. This is the first official live recording of Porcupine Tree as a 4 member band with Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland.

The recording is taken from 3 different sources; some tracks from a Radio One session and two live shows with those tracks made from desk recordings. Those two live shows were the first two PT live performances. The performances were all done before the album "The Sky Moves Sideways" was released and most of the tracks come from "Up the Downstair". There were 3 tracks on each side of the cassette/vinyl and the overall run-time was around 48 minutes.

Side A starts with "Burning Sky" from "Up the Downstair". This performance comes from two sources, the first half from Radio One live broadcast on December 6, 1993 and the 2nd half from the Borderline in London, England on December 7. 1993. The track is pretty much the same length as the original studio version at over 11 minutes. The sound, however, is not as good as the original studio version, but with the recording method, this shouldn't be too surprising. Next up is a very much shortened version of "Voyage 34" (originally from the EP of the same name) that only runs just over 5 minutes and only really has time to feature one of the themes and some dreamy effects of the much longer original. This one was entirely recorded at the Borderline in London. This isn't even the best part of the track, so it's kind of a let-down, and the sound quality is not so great. Finally, the last track on this side is "Always Never" from "Up the Downstair". This one comes entirely from the Radio One performance noted earlier. This is the first time you hear Wilson's voice on this album, and you can tell he isn't quite as confident in a live setting yet. And the sound continues to be sup-par. The performance are still decent however, especially for being their first performances live as a band.

All of side B was recorded live at The Nag's Head in High Wycombe on Dec. 4th, 1993. It starts off with a 9 minute version of "Radioactive Toy" which was available on their demo tape, a separate EP or two, and in a reworked and much better version on "On the Sunday of Life" album. Unfortunately, this live recording sounds more like the demo version, and even worse because of the low-fi recording. Since it is the demo version of the song, it is also missing the great guitar solo that's on the "?.Sunday?" album. Next comes the title track from "Up the Downstair", that excellent instrumental that on this live version seems to lose a lot of steam, mainly for the poor mix. The most interesting thing on the album is the last track "Not Beautiful Anymore", which still has a bad mix, but the synths are unevenly mixed, so they stand out a bit, especially at the end, almost giving the track a different sound.

As far as early live albums for Porcupine Tree, you are much better off getting "Coma Divine" which is recorded much better. The songs on "Spiral Circus" are good enough, but the sound and mixing is not so great, do either get the much better studio versions, or get the above mentioned live album. Otherwise, the only thing of value on this live album is the historical aspect, since it is their first live recording as a band, of their first shows together. That means, that only collectors or hardcore fans should seek this one out. And if you do decide you need it, get the vinyl remastered version.

Report this review (#2263892)
Posted Friday, September 27, 2019 | Review Permalink

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