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|3.5 great||mabewa | December 7th 17|
This is a good latter-day life album, capturing the band's final lineup, with classic-era members Paul, Grace, Jorma and Jack joined by newer members like Papa John Creach on violin, Johnny Barbata on drums, and David Freiberg as a belated replacement for Martin Balin on vocals. There are different versions of this album with varying number of tracks, but they all focus mostly on newer, post-Balin material. I'm not a big fan of Bark and Long John Silver, the albums that most of this material comes from, but they pick out some of the best songs from those albums and play them more powerfully than the studio versions, so it's a good introduction to their early 70's work. Freiberg barely sings lead--his main role seems to be filling out the vocal harmonies, but having him in the mix helps them reduplicate their great 3-part harmonies, with Grace and Paul dominating. The instrumental mix is also quite powerful--Jorma and Jack rock as usual, and Creach's shrieking violin adds to the instrumental mix. Overall, this material still doesn't live up to their classic late 60's stuff, but the performances are still impressive.
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