Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Greenslade - 2001 - The Full Edition Live

The Full Edition Live

01. Cakewalk (4:33)
02. Feathered Friends (6:38)
03. Catalan (8:08)
04. No Room-But A View (3:36)
05. Large Afternoon (4:06)
06. Sundance (8:31)
07. Wherever I Go (5:15)
08. On Suite (5:56)
09. In The Night (6:24)
10. Bedside Manners Are Extra (5:11)
11. Joie De Vivre (11:19)
12. Spirit Of The Dance (3:27)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards
- John Young / keyboards, vocals
- John Trotter / drums
- Tony Reeves / bass

This is a damn fine live album, acting as a 'best of' spanning a 23 year career , all the expected tracks are present except for my all-time favorite Greenslade tune 'Melange' off the debut, (which you can listen to it on the MP3 section of PA) and the tremendous 'Pilgrim's Progress' of the second release. . There is a tremendous upside in John Young's voice (he of Asia, Wetton, Lifesigns) being so much more attractive than original second keyboardist Dave Lawson's, whose vocals were a hard digestion to say the least and the presence of fabulous bassist Tony Reeves. I, for the record, will restate that Reeves is one of my giant bass idols, owner of an exemplary technique, an almost fretless style that is awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, original drummer Andy MacCulloch (yes of King Crimson infamy) is replaced by the more straightforward John Trotter. This disc really encompasses some those little details that make this band somewhat unique in the prog realm. I will endeavor to highlight those in the course of the review.
Let's get to the killer tracks first: 'Cakewalk' opens up the festivities with Reeves bopping bass leading the crew and it's just plain fun. Little tongue in cheek humor to start off a show, but what do you expect! Dave Greenslade will always be considered as the poor man's Emerson/Wakeman, which in no way diminishes his celebrated talent. The luxuriant 'Catalan' is a celebrated piece that gives the soloists the room to show off their chops (Reeves pulls off a solo that is to die for) but not before going through some Mediterranean sonic stylings that just make you close your eyes and dream. A true prog classic off their 'Large Afternoon' is the title of their 2000 return album, their last one to date. It's a classic setup for both John Young and Dave Greenslade to display some explosive work on synthesizers, piano, organ and such. 'Sundance' is another Greenslade classic off their stellar debut disc, an epic and symphonic masterpiece that swims in dense orchestrations, dazzling electric piano and tons of flute mellotron, before unleashing a blazing hot synth blast that would make Manfred Mann blush with envy. The honky tonk piano solo in the midsection is diabolical. A couple of tracks from 'Large Afternoon' come up next, the 'On Suite' is a modern synth fest, with a bass track nice and present as well as a sax/oboe synth solo that is simply the best ever, a tad lightweight but the bombast via the trumpet sounding synthesizer brings the pulse back to home base, Reeves shepherding the crew magically. The next one is perhaps a bit corny but I love a good romantic tune with symphonic dressing, so 'In the Night' delivers the raw emotion in spades, enhanced by some stellar e-piano work that flutters beautifully, paving the way for the cheese factory voice to be sure but Young can sing with the best of them. I love that lounge/blues/jazz feel, I admit it's an acquired taste but I like Sade, so give me a break! What gets me is that unique guitarsynth patch and the bluesy sway. 'Bedside Manners are Extra' is the title of their second album (1973) and has a playful aura, nothing too cerebral but still chock full of mellotron waves in the old Genesis fold that just veers into a country-style piano romp, with a cool Young vocal. Refreshingly amusing. 'Joie de Vivre' is a lust for life piece off the otherwise dull 'Spyglass Guest' album, an epic 11 minute + keyboard showcase, where both the boss and Young get to try out all kinds of ivories. This is a more buoyant example of their unique legacy, a 'no guitar'/2 keyboardist attack that is quite rare in the music world. Lots of soloing here when Young ends his singing parts, both taking turns at ravaging their set-ups, screeching sounds tortured by deft fingers (a Moog solo to knock your jaw off!). Fun! 'Spirit of the Dance' is a bubbly finale overflowing with eclectic organs runs, a bold bass cutting through the waves, a good time to be had by all and superb playing by all musicians, a fascinating farewell.

The less interesting and predominantly vocal 'oriented tracks are interspersed with these extended pieces. The 1973 'Feathered Friends' is lovingly reworked with some sensational singing by Young as well as that pseudo sax synth solo that is utterly cute. 'No Room 'But a View' and the previously unreleased but poignant 'Whenever I Go' are shorter and more accessible ditties that are still miles away from being radio-friendly pap. Kind of idiotic that this is actually destined to please keyboard fans but I just follow that maddening bass and really get off on Reeves' talent. A very, very pleasant live album that is perhaps their finest recording ever. This is the place to start (at the end?). Oh well!

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