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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Number six in a series of one

Rather a confusing title here, as the album bears the legend "Volume 6" on the cover. This is not however volume 6 as far as the Strawbs are concerned, it is volume one. (Volumes 1-5 of "Concert Classics are by other artists). While this is not their first live album since the very early "Antiques and Curios", when compared to other bands, such releases are few and far between.

This recording dates from around the time of the "Deadlines" album, well after their creative peak. As the Strawbs developed so did their live act, and even today they put on a great show. Unfortunately, "Concert Classics" does not capture the essence of their live performances particularly well, and the packaging is less than informative (one track, "Cut like a diamond" is omitted from the track listing all together). Nevertheless, it does provide a rare "Glimpse of heaven", for fans of the band.

The tracks are taken from their (at the time) more recent albums, the oldest being from "Hero and heroine". In truth, quite a few of the selected tracks could never be listed among their best. "The last resort", "No return", "Simple visions" etc. are all average Strawbs tracks which, while reasonably well suited to a live performance, where the band wish to "get the audience going", do not sound particularly impressive in the audio only situation of a CD.

At times, the harmonies are poor and out of tune, especially on the opening track, "The last resort". Stand in keyboard player Andy Richards adds some fairly up front synthesiser effects, which were not originally there, to tracks such as "Ghosts". These are bit hit and miss in terms of whether they benefit the tracks. The best track is probably "Out in the cold" (from "Hero and heroine"), which is has far more emotion to it than any of the other tracks.

"Concert classics" must go down as something of a missed opportunity. It fails to capture the band at their live best, and does not consistently represent their best works. Hopefully one day, a definitive live album spanning tracks from throughout this great band's career will be forthcoming.

Report this review (#19766)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Have to agree with the other reviewer, sound quality is somewhat garish with some instruments more prominent then others. But I will say that David sings his butt off and gives it his best. Especially when you consider that it was their last tour with a major record label, (which Dave makes a joke of before they start 'Ghost'). I do enjoy the somewhat longish ending for 'Ghost' and some of the later period songs, especially 'Simple Vision', (I have a soft spot for that one). I wish it wasn't so short, though. I wanted to hear songs from their older albums, but I guess with the line-up they had for the tour it wasn't a good idea to play the more involved songs instrumentally. Ratings-wise, my head says 2 stars. But because I love David's enthusiasm, and I haven't heard any other live things by them on disc I'll throw him them a bone and round it off to 3.
Report this review (#71592)
Posted Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars While this is not really a "bad" release, I'm sure their must be better examples of the Strawbs live act (although I don't own any of their live material except this). Songs from their late-70's albums dominate this set of only 8 tracks. None of them are bad choices as examples of this time in the bands career, but none are really inspired either. These are mainly "hits" rather than longer interesting pieces. How about "Beside the Rio Grande" or "The Soldier's Tale"? These would have been interesting live tracks here.

I also have a big problem with the sound. Cousins has a great voice through much of this and seems to be trying, but the background music and singing is murky and discordant at times. This takes away from my ability to enjoy this release. I am only able to give it 2 stars, which is the lowest of any Strawbs album I own.

Report this review (#280534)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2010 | Review Permalink

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