Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dice - 1993 - Live Dice

Live Dice

01. Greed
02. Disease
03. The Drum Thing
04. Life, Where Have You Been All My Life
05. Follies
06. Alea Iacta Est
07. Merchandise
08. Springtime
09. Drowned In Time
10. An Urgent Request

- Per Andersson / drums, percussion, chorus
- Robert Holmin / lead vocals, saxes, chorus
- Leif Larsson / keyboards, Mellotron, chorus
- Örjan Strandberg / acoustic & electric guitars, chorus
- Fredrik Vildö / bass guitar, chorus

The live heritage of DICE is this compilation of live recordings between March 78 and Spring 79 in Denmark and Stockholm. On the whole, the musical result could be best described as a mix between ELP and GENTLE GIANT but, unfortunately, it doesn´t really represent how a live performance was.

The first two pieces are, by far, the more interesting section of the whole record. "Greed" and "Disease", from their very first record, are great examples of their musical talent, and are part of the superb symphonic rock of the late 70s, full of changes and great dialogues between guitar and organ, including some dark and mysterious passages.

"The Drum Thing" is a percussion set performed by the four members of the band. It has an explosive start, but it later turns into fairy and circus music, not really interesting at the end, and you have the sensation that all the high expectations won´t be satisfied. Something similar happens with "Life, Where Have You Been All My Life", a ballad by guitarist Örjan Strandberg, with great vocal chorus, but the overall result isn´t excellent at all.

"Follies", the longest piece of the record with 14 minutes, is the next disappointment. It has an impressive start, with frenzy guitar and great vocal arrangements very close to GENTLE GIANT, turning later into keyboard oriented music (FOCUS comes to my mind); lots of tempo changes, including an interlude with mellotron and guitar, very interesting and with that typical scnadinavian flavour, dark and melancholic. But by the secondnd half, the sound becomes more in the traditional symphonic school, less original, despite a tremendous finale. The overall impression is that the song is not really a cohessive work, because there are too many ideas, but not well connected.

"Alea Iacta Est", the last part of the live section, includes Robert Holmin, lead singer on the second record. It is a very ELP oriented song and, despite the great quality of the music, it lacks originality.

The bonus tracks are very representative of what happened to many bands on the late 70s, placed between the glorious days and what was yet to come, so there isn´t a clear stylistic direction. "Merchandise" is like a parody of musical trends, quite funky oriented. The band describes it as an experimentation, but for me, it lacks inventiveness. "Spring Time" and "Drowned in Time" are simple tunes that, despite the vocal arrangements and incredible keboard playng by Leif Larson, don´t offer anything special. The last song of the record, "An Urgent Request", is nothing but a short and delicate effort to conclude the recording and, in the artists´words, it could fit well "at the end of a great Broadway musical".

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