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SKY 5 LIVE

Sky

Eclectic Prog


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russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I'm reviewing the double-vinyl set originally released in 1983. Its track listing is similar to the double CD listed above.

This release was a serious mistake. What SKY needed to do was to produce a quality set of original music, to win back their many fans lost after 'Forthcoming'. So what did they do but issue a double live set! Expensive (certainly for me in 1983), unnecessary (some groups gain from being recorded live, but SKY is not one of them) and gratuitous, this was the band's death knell.

Yes, the music is played competently, and yes, the new selections add more competency to a distinguished repertoire, but 'Sky5 Live' is ultimately a failed exercise because one gets no sense of rapport between group and audience. On occasion the audience can be heard reacting, but for what reason? The distance by which they miss the dynamism and immediacy of a live show is breathtaking. I know they can do much better than this; I've seen it.

If it was going to come anywhere, the obligatory supergroup live album ought to have followed their first two releases. By the time this album arrived, most people had moved on.

Report this review (#114601)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Pie in the sky

Most band's I know of that called their albums by their order of appearance (1, 2, 3, etc.) didn't include live albums in this "system", but Sky did just that with Sky Five: Live. This was, however, not entirely without justification as this live release did contain lots of new material that appears only on this album and nowhere else (but also a few Sky classics). So despite being a live album, this was also, in one sense, properly speaking Sky 5. The contents are a mixed bag with some strong moments amidst longer sections of boredom.

Apparently there are several versions of this album, some lacking the 20 minute plus opening The Animals. It is however not a great loss! It is clear from the start that Sky took a more jazzy and improvisational approach on this album. It starts out well enough in a moderately structured and melodic vein, but rather soon it deteriorates; half way through it looses direction and becomes a rather tedious, slow, jazzy thing. This piece falls very far behind previous "side-long" compositions by the band such as Where Opposites Meet (from Sky 1) and Fifo (from Sky 2). This is followed by the equally dull The Swan which is a very understated, mellow, Classical piece. If you have managed to stay awake until the end of this track, you're in for something more interesting.

The best track on the whole album is KP1 (very unimaginatively titled after the initials of its creator, Kevin Peek). This is much closer to the style of the band's first three albums and features excellent electric/acoustic interplay. With such a track there is still hope for this album. Next up is Dance Of The Little Fairies, one of the previously familiar numbers, which is a good piece though I prefer other versions over this one. Love Duet is (together with the aforementioned KP1) the other really worthy new piece of music presented here. This one is less melodic but features the same lovely electric/acoustic interplay. Very pleasant, but not particularly memorable.

The Bathroom Song is utterly and completely pointless and consists of someone playing piano and mindlessly singing la la la la while the rest of the band (presumably) had gone to the toilet! It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but there's really no excuse for including it on a live album. KP2 is a fun little, uptempo rocking number. I fail to detect any real connection to KP1. Antigua slows things down considerably and is a lovely, Classical-style guitar piece. They return to familiar ground with Sahara which was originally a great number from Sky 2 that reminds me a lot of Al Di Meola's style, though the original studio version is better. Sakura Variations sounds to me like mindless improvisation on acoustic guitar that really goes nowhere. Meheeco is another disappointment as it reminds little of its studio counterpart. Hotta, on the other hand, does remind of its studio counterpart, but it lacks the latter's excitement.

A couple of stronger moments, but overall a rather disappointing release. I much recommend to begin with the earlier and very much better live concert video Live In Concert: Bremen, Germany (1980) (actually recorded in 1979; sometimes goes under the alternative title of Live Across Europe). Sky Five Live is primarily recommended for fans (for whom I reckon it must be essential due to the several songs not available elsewhere).

Report this review (#1046234)
Posted Friday, September 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are two preceding collab reviews for this live set, both very negative. That came as a surprise to me, although I basically agree on most that SouthSideoftheSky says. But first a little personal background of my SKY relationship. As a teenager I used to borrow vinyls from a library and that way learn new bands, and Five Live was such first-acquaintance album to me, and possibly my first INSTRUMENTAL pop/rock album in general. The totally atypical live experience (almost devoid of any interaction between the group and the audience), , well, it did make a peculiar impression on me, though not a very lasting one, for some time later I overtaped it. Something like a decade later I bought SKY2 -- generally seen as their best -- which I removed from my shelf a couple of years later. Even in my enormously prog-expansive recent years SKY has escaped my radar, until this year I received Esoteric Recordings' re-releases of the albums # 2-5 to be reviewed in a prog magazine. It probably helps being now a middle-aged man to better appreciate the academically stiff style of SKY, ha ha!

The roughly 95-minute set starts with a 20+ minute, admittedly narcotic wandering of 'Animals'. In my teens I couldn't quite decide whether it was an over-extended bore or a fascinating piece of music painting inner images to my mind. It sure demands a friendly and patient attitude from the listener but at least partially it is rewarding. The next track is a very delicate Tristan Fry arrangement of Camille Saint-Saëns' 'The Swan' starring marimba. Not bad, actually.

'KP I' (written by, you guessed, Kevin Peek) has a rockier flavour and tastes more like the Sky2 material. Tristan Fry's marimba starts 'Dance of the Little Fairies', joined soon by piano, acoustic guitars and rhythm section. This joyfully galloping tune is a good example of the SKY music operating between the no-man's land of "pop" and "art" music. 'Love Duet' is a beautiful, romantic track starring guitars.

The second CD opens with a naive 'Bathroom Song' which has its own humorous charm, even if musically it is a throwaway tune. "Ignore!!! Except for the Glitterball", writes Herbie Flowers about it. 'KP II' is a lively fast-tempo tune offering the "rock" aspect which is so scarce in this set in general -- which doesn't mean I'd prefer it over the rockless tracks. 'Antigua', a moody classical guitar number of John Williams, is among the finest moments here. The rest of the set varies between narcotic and disappointing. But summa summarum: if you appreciate SKY also when they don't rock at all, there's no solid reason not to enjoy this double album as well. Just don't expect it to capture the "live energy" normally felt on live albums. SKY was not a rock band in that sense!

Report this review (#1493865)
Posted Sunday, November 29, 2015 | Review Permalink

SKY Sky 5 Live ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only
  • 4 stars [email protected]
  • 3 stars Kontiki
  • 3 stars plinius (Achille)
  • 3 stars lord777lord7 (Kuehne, Axel)
  • 3 stars BRIAN STEFFENSEN (Brian Steffensen)
  • 3 stars Hazy7868
  • 2 stars Lynx33 (Balázs Markó)
  • 4 stars Sunglasses Ron
  • 3 stars jethroelp2 (geoffrey cave)
  • 5 stars dannyb

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