New England - 2003 Greatest Hits Live

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ARTIST: New England
ALBUM: Greatest Hits Live
LABEL: GB Music
SERIAL: GB-1011
YEAR: 2003
SPONSOR: Gary Borress

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: John Fannon - vocals, guitars * Jim Waldo - keyboards * Gary Shea - bass * Hirsh Gardner - drums

TRACK LISTING: Alone Tonight * 02 Shoot * 03 Hello Hello Hello * 04 The Last Show * 05 Encore * 06 Hey You're On The Run * 07 Shall I Run Away * 08 Nothing To Fear * 09 Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya * 10 Explorer Suite * 11 P.U.N.K * 12 You'll Be Born Again

Background

One of the true tests of a band's potential is how they fare in the live environment. Especially if you are a band that has a brace of excellent studio albums, as was the case with Boston based AOR/pomp legends New England. Well known, and much loved by many readers of this site, the story has not completely finished on the book of New England just yet.

The enterprising Gary Borress of GB Music keeps the flag flying with another release assigned to the N.E discography, perhaps with a promise of more to come? This time it's a Greatest Hits Live set culled from 1980. For me, this is the second live album of the band I've now heard. Somewhere in my vinyl collection, I have a 1979 6 track Live LP released by the defunct Infinity Records label.

There are a handful of other releases out there, including a live Chicago set called 'See You Next Time' which I understand dates back to about 1980.

The Songs

This CD looks as if it dates back to 1980 too, and was recorded on tour in San Francisco. It includes many songs taken from the 1979 debut, plus a handful from the sophomore effort 'Explorer Suite'.

In fact, tracks from that latter album like 'Hey You're On The Run' and the title track 'Explorer Suite' sound great live, considering the album production and overly orchestral arrangements found on that CD. As the band were on tour to specifically support the album at the time, it's no wonder then that those two songs in particular sound 'road tested'. For me, the harder songs sound best in the live environment.

'Shoot', 'P.U.N.K' (Puny Under Nourished Kid), 'Nothing To Fear', and the band's staple 'Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya', all brimming with energy which the band was renowned for in the live setting, and it's recaptured here faithfully.

The lovely ballad 'Shall I Run Away' gets a true pomp workout at just under 8 minutes, but to me sounds a little over-extended this time around. Elsewhere, hearing debut album tracks like 'Hello Hello Hello' (another fave track), 'Alone Tonight', 'Encore' and 'The Last Show' adds the icing on the cake.

In Summary

The band will be the first to admit that the overall quality of this sound recording is not as pristine as some of today's live performances that we hear now, but considering that it was resurrected from 1980 when the technology was not available, we'll take that on the chin.

John Fannon and Hirsh Gardner have spent a bit of time in the studio tidying it up, the result captures the band in an environment that many Glory Daze readers/listeners will not have experienced before. New England fans will need no invitation, check out the details on the website above, and revisit a bit of AOR/pomp history.


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