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Pendragon - 9:15 Live  CD (album) cover

9:15 LIVE




3.25 | 70 ratings

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Mr. Gone
4 stars Pendragon got into the live album business pretty early - after a few EPs and a single LP. This might seem a bit premature, and perhaps it was. That doesn't prevent this from being a highly enjoyable album.

In fact, basically every track is an improvement over their studio counterparts. I tend to believe this has something to do with the new musicians manning the drums (Fudge Smith replacing Nigel Harris) and keyboards (Clive Nolan replacing Rik Carter). While "The Jewel" often seemed a bit stiff, even brittle, the tracks as presented here have much more life, energy and raw power behind them while maintaining a high level of craftsmanship, and I think Messers Smith and Nolan likely have a great deal to do with that. "Leviathan" sounds great, "Circus" is a minor classic, and what I consider to be the ultimate version of probably one of Pendragon's ten best songs, the epic "Black Knight", appears here.

So why only four stars? For one thing, "Red Shoes". Nick Barrett has admitted that most fans seem to hate that song (though he says he also sees everyone dancing to it when they perform live - more evidence that what works well in a concert setting may not work as well as a listening experience, I guess), and frankly I sympathize with them. It's just a banal, boring blob of trite musical cliches which I always skip. And for another, the sound quality. The live portion is actually fairly passable in sound, but the three studio songs sound flat as paper - a real tragedy, especially on the beautiful "Dark Summer's Day", another minor masterpiece which makes me sadly recall my father's passing on a beautiful early September day (and I know this is probably not at all what the song is about, but for the listener music is just as much what you get out of it, what feelings you attach to it, as it is about what the musicians themselves were trying to say. That was my "Dark Summer's Day").

So, all things taken into account - a great album. I regularly throw it into whatever CD player I happen to be nearest to. Take out that one truly horrid track and I might even be inspired to give five stars even with the sonic limitations. But the two together are a bit too much to overcome. Recommended nonetheless.

Mr. Gone | 4/5 |


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