I have been following the music of Alan Parsons ever since his first album back the glorious 70's. Parsons has proven to be such a creative and consistant artist that I am still following his every move over 20 years later! For all those years throughout the 70's and 80's (even through his most commercially successful periods) Parsons always claimed that he was a studio artist, with no intentions of EVER playing live. However, all of that changed with the 1994 European release of "The Very Best Of Live". The album was then repackaged (with three additional studio tracks as a bonus)and released to the USA about a year later. Well, simply put, "The Very Best of Live" is just about everything that I hoped it would be! The performances of some of Parsons best rockers ("Standing On Higher Ground", "Your Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned") are emotionally-charged and energetic to the hilt! Just as his best known ballads ("Old and Wise", "Time") are given the full dreamy, atmospheric treatment of their original studio versions. The live band consists of many of Parsons usual studio cohorts (drummer Stuart Elliott, keyboardists Andrew Powell and Richard Cottle, and of course, colorful guitar-meister Ian Bairnson). On these live tracks all of the lead vocals are provided by Chris Thompson and Gary Howard. Both singers have good versitile pipes, and do a more than admirable job of covering the varied vocal styles of the many singers that have contibuted to Parsons repertoire over the years. Thompson's empassioned take on "Limelight" easily surpasses the studio version from 1985's "Stereotomy", just as the dual vocals on "Don't Answer Me" add an extra dimension to the song. Another treat for the Parsons faithful are the new studio tracks added onto the US release. "When" is a simple rocker sung by Thompson. "Take the Money and Run" is an excellent piece of modern art-rock, with some spacy keyboard textures, a dynamic arrangement that builds in intensity, and a rare vocal performance by drummer Stuart Elliott. Perhaps the best of the new studio tracks is "You're the Voice", an anthemic rocker with an outstanding lead vocal from Thompson. "You're the Voice" was to become one of the emotional highlights of Parsons 1995 tour in support of this album. I can still remember the whole audience joining in on that catchy chorus at Clowes Hall in Indianapolis...a great moment! All in all, if you are a hardcore fan of Alan Parsons, I can't imagine that you would be disappointed with this fine album. Perhaps the only disappointment for me was the complete lack of any songs from Parsons stellar 1992 disc "Try Anything Once", but the new studio tracks go a long way towards curbing that disappointment. (Parsons later said that record company politics prevented him from including some of the "Try" songs that were recorded during these live shows). Oh' well, "The Very Best of Live" is still a fine live document of a true art-rock genius!