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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on November 11, 2000
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!
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on November 2, 2000
Benefitting from a straightforward pop sensibility, the Alan Parsons Project has been one of the more accessible of the various progressive rock bands, so it's not hard to see why trotting out some of their straightforward rockers to live audiences would seem like a good idea.
It's not.
The reason is that it goes against the band's very concept -- an arch producer/song-writer creating rich theme albums with studio musicians and meticulous production. The live performance eliminates the themeatic context, the slick production, and leaves us with just the hired hands.
Speaking of them, it must be noted that Project co-founder Eric Woolfson isn't present, having apparently taken the word "Project" with him. His distinctive vocals are clearly missed on "Time" and "Eye in the Sky".
Not that "Eye in the Sky" itself is under-represented. This live album includes nearly every tune from EITS, even filler like "You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned". It reeks of a record company decision based on sales numbers from the Parsons catalog. Trust me, you'd have been a lot better off if the set list included "Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether", "La Sagrada Famila", or "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You".
Live prog rock can be done well -- many of the performances on Supertramp's "Paris" are distinct improvements over their studio versions. But the Parsons live album comes off as a very compromised greatest hits set. Better to spend your money on the studio work, especially "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" and "I Robot", or the expatriate Woolfson's "Freudiana".
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on July 22, 1999
I heard this CD after only having heard one Alan Parsons CD ("On Air"), so initially didn't know any of the tracks on it. Now I'm hooked!
In fact, I was so impressed, I've recently bought Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Eve, I Robot and The Best Of album. (From Amazon - of course!)
Now that I've heard more of the material, I can appreciate this live album even more.
My favourites would have to include The Raven, Luciferama, Don't Answer Me and You're The Voice.
An amusing part of the album is when he gets his albums mixed up - "Here's another one from Eye In The Sky? No - Turn of a Friendly Card!" Funny.
If you're new to APP, get this CD. If you're an old time fan and are a bit dubious as to whether the band won't work live then get this CD anyway. You'll be greatly surprised. Remember - Genesis started off as an "albums" group, and look how good they are live !
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Having been a Project fan for more years than I care to think about, I thought I had the entire collection until I did a double-check on Amazon. Quite frankly, I couldn't imagine that the Project sound would work live - after all, there are plenty of groups that tour regularly and don't seem to get their act together (ie that studio sound or, preferably, better). To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. The neighbours are sick of the album already! This is vintage Parson/Woolfson genius - and you can sing along! I would urge all Project fans to add it to their collections, and if you're not yet a convert, this is worth trying as a sampler - you soon will be. I hope Alan and Eric are still creating and recording - I'm certainly keen to build my collection further. And what's the chance of them heading to Australia?? I've started saving already!
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on July 22, 2000
During his 25 years of recording, Alan never did tours because he wasn't really a band---his musicians were gathered for concept albums and other joyous works! However, when he finally did go live, he did well. Having Chris Thompson do some of the lead vocals was a real plus. Chris has a voice reminiscent of former Little River Band member John Farnham, and he uses it well. The arrangements stick pretty close to the studio versions, and when they vary, it's an improvement. Highlights are "Limelight," "Prime Time," and "Don't Answer Me." All the tracks are great, and the studio songs "You're the Voice" and "When" are outstanding. This is a good example of a good "band" being even better live! Enjoy.
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on October 14, 1999
In a radio interview year ago, Alan Parsons was asked why they didn't tour. He said it's better to be asked why didn't you, than why DID you! This disc shows that he was RIGHT. While it's a good collection of songs, the performance is poor; Much of the interesting music seems to be from a tape and the vocals are not good. The singers who made those memorable (Eric W. and Lenny Z) are absent. I'd really recommend the albums in their original form. Otherwise, please trust me and buy the best-of's or Definitive Collection first.
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on November 16, 1998
Right from Sirius leading into the haunting Eye in the Sky to the studio recorded You're the Voice...this collection is a masterpiece all the way...A compilation of their all time greats, it reflects the diversity and the amazing instrumental and orchestral capabilities of Alan Parsons...Every single track is on its own and you have to listen to them to believe....
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on August 20, 2000
This is the first time I heard the Alan Parsons [Project] play live. The selection of songs is very good as well as the new voices. My favorite songs are Sirus, a very strong and powerful intro followed by Eye in the Sky and the beautiful combination of Lucifer and Mammagamma. I don't know how many times I have listened to this CD.
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on January 14, 1999
A very nice collection of the best work of Alan Parsons Project. Even, it is a concert recording, the songs performance is excelent, with very nice sound effects and a very good sound quality. This CD is highly recommended for someone who has discovered Alan Parsons recently.
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on April 7, 2003
In consideration that APP is so heavily produced to think they could pull off a alive gig and make it sound close would be a stretch. Frankly it is and Eric W. is absent too. Over all not bad, but honestly....don't get rid of the studio Cd,s quite yet.
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