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Refugee - Live in Concert - Newcastle City Hall 1974 CD (album) cover

LIVE IN CONCERT - NEWCASTLE CITY HALL 1974

Refugee

 

Symphonic Prog

3.54 | 31 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 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*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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