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4 stars A real gem this for all fans of organ driven symph prog. Refugee's debut album (reviewed elswhere) is one of the best symph prog albums and this official live album (taken from a high quality bootleg) is just as much fun.The Swiss keyboard genius that is Patrick Moraz on keyboards is well represented here. Compared to the album there is a lot less piano so fans of the organ will enjoy this even more than the studio album I expect. On top of that there are fine renditions of The Nice 'Diamond Hard Blues Apples of The Moon' and 'She Belongs To Me' (orginally Bob Dylan).For a live album recorded in 1974 it has excellent sound clarity. Davison's drums are raw and powerfull while Lee Jackson raspy vocals fit the organ based sound. This is more like The Nice than The Nice were!
Report this review (#121481)
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Masterpiece Prog Live Album!

Colleague Collaborator Guillermo Vzquez wrote at this site : "Why Patrick Moraz left this band?" to start his great review of Refugee's the only one studio album. This is truly a thought provoking question and I do like it because I fully agree with him. Refugee is a great band and there was actually no compelling reason to disband. What a pity! With such a great studio album, this band is actually could be BIGGER than ELP. This live performance proves that Refugee is a great band! By the way, for those of you who have not listened to (and MUST OWN!) Refugee only one album, you must. It's a masterpiece of progressive music. In fact that album was the one that influenced the pop music scene in my country through the release of original sound track film "Badai Pasti Berlalu") in 1977. The musical nuance was mostly taken from Refugee's album.

I only knew this live in concert CD couple of months ago when I browse the net. I then ordered this album through the Missingpiece - which took so long to process because they were on leave - how come no customer order assurance during their leave period? Well finally .. after a long wait my order arrived and this was my second priority to enjoy after Genesis "Live" (Gabriel era). The first thing I did was to read the sleeve notes and I was impressed with the passion demonstrated to make this live concert CD available from Brian Davison's C 90 cassette containing major stuffs which later become this CD. The notes were well written by Martyn Hanson (the author of "Hang On To A Dream" - The Story of The Nice). Because I was grown with vintage prog music like Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and also Refugee, I was really touched with the notes that Martyn put it. One of it was the fact that the tape was originally found on 2000 and it it made into CD in 2007!

I don't really care about the sonic quality which I consider "poor" even though Martyn said it's good. It's not good at all to my standard. The sonic quality of my Marillion bootleg albums are better than this one. But again, I don't care because I'm so curious to have the live version of this legendary band that has colored my childhood days. My pulse was running faster when "Outro - Ritt Mickley" (2:53) was wonderfully performed even though it's quite short. The song starts in the middle because I believe the opening part is damaged. But it's okay, I don't care. Through this track I can sense the great live vibes and how Patrick Moraz plays his keyboard wonderfully. With this release I finally know who Ritt Mickley is. As Martyn put in the sleeve notes that Patrick's English is good but his pronunciation is really bad. It actually meant to be "rhythmically" but the other band members thought that "Ritt Mickely" due to bad pronunciation from Patrick. What a great prog joke, really! All of them laughed but the name stuck.

I shout outloud "Yeeeaaah!" when I listened to "One Left Handed Peter Pan" (8:44) which to me is one of great symphonic prog rock composition featuring dynamic and pulsating keyboard work, aggressive bass lines and dazzling drumwork. It's truly a masterpiece!!! That's why, this band could be bigger than ELP, especially knowing "One Left Handed Peter Pan" which supposed to be part of Refugee's second album. It opens with ambient keyboard followed with tight bass lines by Lee Jackson and powerful drum beats by Brian followed with Patrick's keyboard work. What follow then was the energetic vocal line by Lee Jackson. He sings with very strong accentuation and energy. Patrick Moraz solo follows with his pulsating synthesizer. It's really great! It's gonna be a great track in studio, I think. Well, actually after quitting from Yes, Moraz could rejoin with other Refugee members and made the second album.

"The Diamond Hard Blues Apples Of The Moon" (7:00) is basically The Nice's song which Refugee performed beautifully. Next are two songs from their first album. The first one is "Someday" (6:06) which actually telling the story about the break-up of Lee Jackson (vocal, bass) first marriage. It's performed much more dynamic than the original studio version. The second is "Papillon" (8:00) which its name was inspired by Dustin Hoffman's film with the same title. Again this song demonstrates great combination of aggressive keyboard work, tight basslines and dazzling drumwork. The live version is much dynamic. This live version features also Bob Dylan's "She Belongs To Me" (8:54).

The last song is my ultimate favorite from Refugee "Grand Canyon Suite" (18:24) which represents Patrick's willingness to write a piece of music on natural wonder. It's quite surprising to me that Patrick played Alpine Horn at the start of this epic. I really enjoy this track, performed live, especially with how energetic Lee Jackson delivered his powerful vocal with really great dynamic. "When you go home and sleep this nightDream of wings and astral flight. Fly with the speed of waking light. And we'll go. And I'll show you. Show you the way. To the Grand Canyon". What a great song, really! Listening to the melody of this song, I almost cry ..!!

Overall, I cannot give any less than five stars for this wonderful and energetic live show. However, I would raise a flag for those of you who really an audiophile should consider twice if you wanna buy this record. The sonic quality is poor, I tell you. But for me, I don't care. This live record is a gem for me and I will treat it as precious as my other collections. It's a must have for those who love vintage prog! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#133859)
Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars To describe this as a bootleg is wrong as the tape was off the soundboard and belonged to Blinky.

The sound quality is reasonable good throughout, although not super. Even so what you get is an utterly indispensible live document, of one of Prog's shortest lived super groups.

Of course people are going to draw comparisons with the Nice, and indeed at times there are moments that sound very Nice like. Hardly surprising, But Blinky never played this fast with Emerson, and Jackson's bass playing seems to have come on leaps and bounds in the few years between the demise of the Nice and Refugee.

What a great band, and what a shame we only have this and the studio album to listen to now.

The only minus is Lee's vocals, which were never strong, but are mostly acceptable. Technically Moraz is a better keyboard player than Emerson, although maybe just a little less lyrical. Even so he is awesome on this record, as on the brilliant studio album. The good news is that you can buy a 2 disc version of the recording with the Refugee album, at a very reasonable price.

If you do not yet own this, and are a fan of either the Nice or ELP, then really this should be your next purchase because it is awesome. 5 star music, but I will dock 1 star to take into account the less than perfect sound quality. Even so essential for all fans of symphonic prog.

Report this review (#660584)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars To say the sound quality of Refugee's live album is rough is an understatement- it is almost like a bootleg. But that could have been swiftly forgiven had this group performed as a purveyor of instrumentals. Honestly, Billy Bob Thornton's character from Slingblade sing progressive rock just doesn't work. Lee Jackson's throaty, gritty, hoarse vocals (just listen to "The Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon") make me wonder if I should burst out laughing or run screaming from the room. His grating nasal buzzing is worse than what I could hear at a karaoke bar after midnight; it's so terrible I cannot imagine why anyone would praise it. I can't listen to it with a straight face. A proper singer with a pleasant voice or the absence of a singer altogether would have complemented the music far more appropriately. The bass playing is generally solid, although the keyboards and drums overshadow it most of the time. Speaking of keyboards, I desperately want to spray WD-40 on whatever that "rusty bicycle" sound is that runs throughout much of "Papillon," and some of the cheesy extraterrestrial keyboard tones are dreadful. These criticisms notwithstanding, this is an album of interest for those fond of experimental, organ and synthesizer-driven symphonic progressive rock, and Patrick Moraz demonstrates an incredible presence and prowess throughout the concert as a musician.
Report this review (#721366)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Refugee were a short-lived project by any measure, which I suppose explains why the sound quality on this solitary live album of theirs is so mediocre - with so few gigs to their name and not a whole lot of confidence from their record company (who passed up the chance to get a 2nd album from them), I guess we're lucky any of their concerts were recorded at all. The track list begins with "Outro" - yes, we're coming into the thing mid-flow, proper bootleg style - and the sound quality remains highly variable across the album's running time.

Refugee's live set consists of a mash-up of the band's original compositions and various old songs from The Nice, which doesn't exactly help counteract the notion that Brian Davison and Lee Jackson were treating Refugee as a way of continuing The Nice by other means. The original material is captured better on their sole studio album, and Moraz' talents would found better use in Yes after he jumped ship, so the album is really solely for hardcore Refugee fans who are desperate to own all the official releases from the band - and how many people are head-over-heels for Refugee in the first place? Not many, I'd wager. Some CD editions of the debut album include this material as a bonus, but if you already have the debut and the original releases by The Nice I wouldn't put the effort into tracking this down if I were you. because you've already got all this material in greatly superior quality renditions.

Report this review (#906015)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review N 358

As I said, when I reviewed their only and eponymous debut studio album, Refugee raised from the ashes of The Nice. In spite of their musical quality and notoriety, The Nice never sold many records and released only four studio albums during their brief lifespan. Keith Emerson became disenchanted with the group and left it to form a similar but more successful group Emerson, Lake & Palmer, with Greg Lake from King Crimson and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster.

When The Nice broke up after the departure of Keith Emerson, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison pursued individual and different musical directions for several years, until they discovered the Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz. Then, they recruited him to form a new band, a second coming of The Nice. Thus, was born Refugee which released only one studio album, their eponymous debut studio album 'Refugee', released in 1974. However, the life of the band was very brief because in the same year Moraz left Refugee to join Yes, replacing the departure of Rick Wakeman from that band.

However, a live album was also released, 'Live In Concert - Newcastle City Hall 1974'. The story of the release of this album is very curious and interesting. Rescued from its obscurity, 'Live In Concert ' Newcastle City Hall 1974' was taken from an old cassette recording that was in the possession of the Refugee drummer, Brian Davison. During a conversation with him, writer Martyn Hanson, a habitual writer of notes and books about Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Nice and Refugee, asked if the drummer had any old live recordings from The Nice in his possession. Davison said no, but he also said that he had a Refugee old tape, which he proceeded to dig out of an old box. So, and despite its age, the recordings were in good conditions of preservation, and after being cleaned up a bit, it was able to be released.

So 'Live In Concert ' Newcastle City Hall 1974' was only released in 2007, thirty three years later of its recording sessions. The live show included on this album was recorded at the legendary Newcastle City Hall, in the year of 1974.

'Live In Concert ' Newcastle City Hall 1974' has eight tracks. The first track 'Outro ' Ritt Mickley' is a short live version of a song originally released on their studio album 'Refugee'. The fourth track 'Someday', the fifth track 'Papillon' and the seventh track 'Grand Canyon' are also tracks previously released on 'Refugee'. The second track 'One Left Handed Peter Pan' and the eighth track 'Refugee Jam', are two tracks that never were released on any studio album from them. They were slated for their second studio album, which was never made. The third track 'The Diamond Hard Blues Apples Of The Moon' is a live performance of a song originally composed by The Nice and that appears on their fourth studio album 'Elegy'. The sixth track 'She Belongs To Me' is a live performance of a song originally composed by Bob Dylan and released on Bob Dylan's fourth studio album, 'Bringing It All Back Home'.

About the live performance of the tracks all over the album, they're all great. Moraz's pseudo classical 'Papillon', stretched out considerably from the studio version, not only finds the keyboardist as fluid as Emerson but, with a great arsenal of many instruments and a more textural player as well. 'Grand Canyon Suite' is the highlight of this sixty five minute set, demonstrating exactly why Moraz would be such a perfect, albeit sadly short lived, fit for Yes. It's the kind of epic progressive rock that was de rigueur in the day, moving from complex pseudo classicism and propulsive rock grooves to majestic balladry, even referencing The Nice's classic 'Rondo '69' during Moraz's organ solo near the end of the eighteen minute piece. The group revisits also a couple of staples from The Nice and Dilan, 'She Belongs To Me' and the psychedelic 'Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon'. In both cases, Moraz's keyboards work is in every bit a par with Emerson's work, despite he has never achieved the level of popular acclaim of Keith. It's a curious thing that, while both continued working through so many years, even Moraz enjoyed a stint as keyboardist for The Moody Blues until 1990, neither of his latter works are considered significant when compared with his past works from the 70's.

Conclusion: We can see this album in two different perspectives, the quality of its release and the quality of its live performance. Relatively to the quality of its release, it isn't bad but it has some lower points. Its sound quality is poor and isn't very well balanced, particularly in relation to the vocals, especially because those who knows the band, knows that Jackson never was a great singer. Relatively to the quality of the live performance, it's superb and I even dare to say that for those who were lucky enough to see that live set, they were very happy, for sure. They certainly saw one of the greatest live performances in the 70's. So, despite the low quality of the recordings of the album, I can't give it less than 4 stars. Thi is a fantastic and a wonderful live performance, which means, that this is an essential album in any progressive rock collection. This live album and their eponymous debut studio album put Refugee as one of the best prog rock groups in the 70's. They also proved that they weren't inferior to The Nice and to Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2431668)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2020 | Review Permalink

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