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Monday, May 9, 2016

Alan Price: Performing Price


1) Arrival; 2) O Lucky Man!; 3) Left Over People; 4) Away Away; 5) Under The Sun; 6) In Times Like These; 7) Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear; 8) Poor People; 9) Sell Sell; 10) Justice; 11) Look Over Your Shoulder; 12) Too Many People; 13) Nobody Can; 14) Keep On Rollin'; 15) City Lights; 16) You're Telling Me / Is There Anybody Out There; 17) Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo; 18) Sweet P; 19) I Put A Spell On You; 20) It Takes Me Back; 21) Between Today And Yesterday; 22) Changes; 23) O Lucky Man! (reprise).

Another year, another pun. Actually, the price was right on the money here, because it's a double live album which now comes for the price of a single CD (provided you can find it at all) — and it captures the man at the absolute peak of his solo career, so much so that he plays pretty much the entire Lucky Man! soundtrack, and a huge huge chunk of stuff from Between Today & Yes­terday. Indeed, the setlist is the highlight of the show — 90% is from his last three records (apparently, Metropolitan Man was still in the works, so there's only four songs from that one as a preview of things to come), with three hit singles from the 1960s thrown in as golden oldie bonuses, and not a single Animals song in sight (I'm not sure he ever dared to do ʽRising Sunʼ on his own, no matter how much the public would probably love to hear him have a go).

The principal problem is predictable: all the songs are played relatively safe, sticking close to studio arrangements, and Alan is so busy trying to get the best out of his weak voice that he al­most completely concentrates on «getting it right». Which he does, most of the time, but as good as it must have been for the paying audience, I don't exactly see the performance opening any new dimensions for these tunes. I absolutely do not mind hearing the songs once again — they're all great, and getting them all assembled in one place is nice, and you can use it as extra confir­mation of the fact that at least for a three-year period, Alan Price somehow emerged as one of Britain's top-level songwriters, but that's about it.

Stage-wise, Alan is as humble as ever, usually cutting the banter down to regular thank you's and occasional brief explanations of what the next song is about; there's a little bit of audience inter­action for the chorus of ʽIn Times Like Theseʼ, but that's about it. There are no soloing or jam­ming detours whatsoever — the band obviously follows strict instructions to stick to the rules, and the rules are so strict that they even brought an orchestra along to reproduce all the lush string parts. (By the way, the concert was apparently held in January 1975 somewhere in London and parts of it were also transmitted for a TV show — you can easily catch a few glimpses on You­Tube these days). Eventually, it just leaves you in a situation where the only thing left to do is wonder, «what is he going to leave out anyway?» And he leaves out most of the weak stuff, yes, but for some reason they also don't do ʽThe Jarrow Songʼ — considering that it was one of his biggest hits, that's a tough one to explain.

On the whole, a nice, polite, gentlemanly, feel-good experience, but not really worth a thumbs up, unless one wants to specially elevate Mr. Price just for the sake of his overall nice vibe. On the plus side, the man loyally did his 1970s duty and left us with a double live LP, even despite never claiming to be a progressive rock or a heavy metal artist. (Actually, that should have been a triple live LP to satisfy all the conditions, but for somebody who never engaged in twenty-minute long symph-rock suites, that'd have been one real tough challenge).

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