(All Album Reviews by friendselectric)
This is the only live album I have by the ISB and it is pretty good and in some spots it can drag. It was recorded in Vancouver, Canada in 1972. The great thing about this live album that I can't stand about others is that they don't cut out the talk between songs and here it shows that they have a good connection with their album and that they clearly enjoy playing and what they do.
They storm through "Cousin Caterpillar" and it rocks in good fashion using primarily acoustic instruments, as only they can. I'm not sure who plays drums here as when Robin introduces the band he only introduces Mike, Malcom, Gerard, and himself. The next song, which Robin says that he wrote about a political figure he had seen on TV countless times, and it is called "I Know That Man". In it's previous phase it was a serious political song but they lighten the mood and Robin kind of turns it into a song where he warns a female friend about an older suitor. It starts out with hard strummed acoustic guitar and rollicking piano. It is a kind of sing-along song with both Robin and Mike singing in harmony. It gets into a kind of funny jam with kazoos, piano, and violin.
The next song, which Robin says is an old Irish tune, and is centuries old, is called "The Circle is Unbroken". He changes the words because he doesn't know Gaelic and turns it into a protest song over the Irish war. It starts out with church-like organ and soloing recorders and has an achingly sad melody. With Robin singing his heart out, it is agreat performance, and very Celtic indeed. The next song, "Wild Cat Blues", isn't really so much a blues as it is a sort of Dixieland jazz song, with Gerard's clarinet. I don't care too much for this song, but there is some nice mandolin work in there.
The next song, probably the most famous song Robin Williamson has written, is of course, "First Girl I Loved". Judy Collins covered it as "First Boy I Loved". The original version is the one I like best ,which has Robin singing frailly, but beautifully as well, some heartfelt lyrics about his first love. He turns it into a bossa nova, which is interesting, but not overly enjoyable. The next song, by Mike Heron, is a whimsical folk-rock done as only they can, called "Every Thing's Fine Right Now". It is done with mandolin, acoustic guitar, light percussion, and of course, kazoos. I hate kazoos to put that to rest. It is relatively short, at 2:25. The next song, "Old Buccaneer", is about a pirate and is sung by Robin. I don't particularly like this song, as it includes more clarinet but it does have some electric guitar to offset the mood a little. Robin also improvises vocally at the end of the song, which is somewhat entertaining.
"Catwalk Rag" is a piano rag played by Gerard and written by Scott Joplin. It is well played as it should be, as Gerard Dott is a trad-jazz musician. "Gile Crocodile" is a funny, whimsical song about a criminal crocodile. Robin pronounces Crocodile the German way. The problem though, as with some ISB songs, is that goes on for an agonizingly long nine minutes with not much going on instrumentally. The next song, "Turquoise Blue", is described by Mike as a love song to nature written while on holiday in California. It is enjoyable and it sounds like a Moody Blues song albeit with a clarinet. It starts out with some bright acoustic guitar, flute, light drum work, and clarinet. In the middle Gerard takes a clarinet solo.
Up next, is my favorite song on here besides an upcoming song, is called "My Father Was A Lighthouse Keeper" and it is written and sung by Malcom. It is a sort-of rock song that starts out with drumming, strummed electric guitar, and some organ. I've heard someone call Malcom a really gay Mick Jagger but I can't be sure, as his performance doesn't sound campy at all. The next song is a fast paced folk rocker called "Black Jack David" and it is nothing to write home about. The last song, taken from a 1974 BBC performance is called "Ithakos" and it is their prog-rock epic and it runs over twenty minutes long. It starts with some loud drumming and start stop electric violin and some good bass-work. A synthesizer is introduced and then Mike plays some appropriate Bozouki and is joined by some walking bass lines with organ and piccolo accompaniment. A synth then plays a melody and a sort of solo. At around 3:00 an electric guitar enters and plays some cool lines with a piccolo soloing and then it reverts back to the beginning with the start- stop violin and then someone comes in with some Gilmour-esque majestic electric guitar work. That is all I will tell you as it will be a kind of cliff-hanger that hopefully will leave you wanting more. All in all, an all right live album, except that it lacks energy and the two best songs are a departure for ISB.