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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Chris Thompson

Berlin Live And The Aschaffenburg Remains - Live At The Colos-Saal

Review by Gary Hill

This album from Manfred Mann’s former lead singer is a strong live set. The performance and recordings are both quite potent. The packaging is nice, too, with one exception. The track listing on the CD is all messed up. With the additional DVD included in this thing, it’s a great piece of work. It’s really a shame that they messed up the song listing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD1: Live at Radio Berlin 88.8
Father of Day

This slow moving balladic cut is powerful. It’s got a lot of a Procol Harum vibe to it. I really like Thompson’s vocal performance here, but there’s also some particularly tasty guitar soloing. All in all, this is a real winner. It gets powered out later into something not that far removed from Deep Purple.

Wasting Time
We get a lot more classic rock texture to this piece. It’s more energized, but there’s also some harder rocking, almost crunchy sound in place. This is a killer modern progressive rock arrangement with some retro sounds.
Spirits in the Night
A song Thompson recorded with Manfred Mann (it’s actually written by Bruce Springsteen but that band seemed to really have a knack for covering Springsteen tunes and turning them into something special), this version feels quite a bit like that rendition, but it’s got more of a modern edge to it at the same time. I really love this cut. It works so well here in this live telling.
Hot Summer Nights
This is another great classic rock sounding tune. It’s sort of an energized ballad and Thompson’s vocal delivery is awesome.
Martha´s Madman
Without question this is the most purely progressive rock oriented tune to this point on the set. The arrangement shifts and turns and often rocks out like crazy while still maintaining a nicely off-kilter progression. Still, mellower, more purely melodic sections are included as contrast. Sometimes the vocals have a real echoey texture to them. All in all, it’s a great piece of music.
Land of the Long White Cloud
This killer tune is in keeping with the rest of the music here. There aren’t any big changes, but it’s a great tune, anyway.
Whole Lot To Give
A major change, this is a killer blues and soul kind of jam. It’s retro and very tasty. It has funk along with some nice retro organ. Thompson’s vocals really drive it home.
If You Remember Me
This is a mellow and quite pretty rock ballad. It’s inspired and powerfully emotional.
Don’t Kill It Carol
Here’s an energetic rocker that’s very much progressive rock. It has some jazz keyboard soloing in the middle of the cut. There’s some crunchy guitar and Thompson’s vocals still manage to steal the show. The jazz oriented guitar solo leading to the end of the song is a real screamer, too.
Redemption Song
This is another ballad, and it’s a great tune. It’s powerful and emotional.
Runner
Here we get another song Thompson originally recorded with Manfred Mann. It’s a definite progressive rock journey of nearly epic proportions. It has an extended jam in the middle of the piece. It’s a great piece of music and one that adds a lot to the set.
Mighty Quinn
Another Springsteen cover by way of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, there’s an extended keyboard solo serving as the introduction this particular rendition. It’s a great live performance and Thompson’s on top of his game here. It turns a bit crunchy at times, making it more of a modern version. Later on it gets turned into quite the audience participation piece.
CD2: Live at Berlin 88.8
Piece for the Wicked (Mads Eriksen)
This is an acoustic guitar solo. It’s intricate and shows that Eriksen is a talented guitarist.
You Angel You
This is a pretty straightforward AOR rocker. It features strong performances from all involved, but doesn’t really stand out.
Davy´s on the Road Again
We’re back into decidedly proggy territory here. At times this melodic number works out into some pretty definite fusion. Various instruments lead it here and there and it’s a step up from the cut that came before it.
Blinded by the Light
Here we get Thompson’s live performance of the Springsteen tune that Manfred Mann truly propelled into the stratosphere. I like this version a lot. It’s certainly closely tied to the Mann rendition, but perhaps with a bit less energy at times. A real show stopper, they take it through several instrumental breaks and turn it into quite a jam.
Encores
For You
While this pretty and balladic number doesn’t have the stature of the cut that preceded it, it was always one of my favorite Manfred Mann tunes. It’s a powerful piece that’s evocative and I like it a lot. It’s a great performance.
You’re the Voice
Here we’ve got a pretty straightforward tune. It’s too repetitive and not all that special. I don’t really like it very much.
Questions
A balladic cut, this is another that’s just not that interesting and seems to go on too long. Certainly the disc, as a whole, might be stronger without these two songs.
 
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