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John Wetton

Official Bootleg Archive Vol 1: Deluxe Edition

Review by G. W. Hill
This six-CD box set is quite cool. Each of the shows has a bit different flavor. The first one (Argentina) is the most pure prog set of the bunch. The middle one (Osaka) leans a bit more toward an almost metallic AOR. The final show (Tokyo) lands somewhere in between. There is a lot of duplication of songs across the three shows, but there are some pieces that separate it. Even though we get a number of versions of various cuts, though, they are different enough in performance to make it work. The first two concerts are captured with excellent audio quality. The last one is a bit less than perfect, but still acceptable. I've reviewed each of these albums individually in addition to covering the box set. For the sake of consistency this review and those are essentially the same.
Track by Track Review
Live in Argentina 1996

              
19th October 1996

                 
Broadway Theatre, Buenos Aires, Argentina
John Wetton's known in some circles mostly for his prog rock work in bands like UK and King Crimson. His solo career, though, has a lot of AOR mainstream rock in it. This live album focuses more on the prog side. There are some great live renditions of songs from those two previously mentioned bands, along with Asia and Wetton's solo work. It's a strong set with quite good audio quality.
Disc: 1
                

In the Dead of Night

I've always loved this song. This comes in much like the original. The mix feels a bit more trebly than I would have expected, though. Still, the bass does manage to stand out, and you just can't beat the power and majesty of this tune, really. The fired up instrumental section on this is a bit harder rocking than the original studio take. It's no less potent, though.

Sole Survivor
This Asia tune has always been another favorite. I like this energized rendition. It's fairly true to the original take of the cut.
Only Time Will Tell
Another standout Asia tune, this is a solid rendition, too. It's high energy and pretty faithful.
Voice of America
Here we get an AOR based rock ballad. It's a classy tune that fits well with the last couple pieces. This is a solid rocking performance.
Book of Saturday
This balladic King Crimson number gets an interesting retelling here. The melodies are all familiar, but some of the trappings are a bit different.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Here comes another from the Asia years. It's a solid version.
Thirty Years
Here we get another from UK. This balladic piece is so beautiful. I love this rendition. It runs into the next one.
Hold Me Now
Another ballad that's very evocative and pretty, I love this one, too.
Quilmes
This is a powerful keyboard solo. It has a lot of classical music in its mix along with electronic and prog.
Rendezvous 6:02
We're back to UK territory here. This is another strong version of the cut. It's fairly faithful and a great prog number.
Disc: 2

                      
Thomas Lang's Drum Solo

As the title reveals, this is a drum solo. I'm not a big fan of such things, so this doesn't do much for me.

Caught in the Crossfire

More of a straight-forward, hard rocker, this is solid. It's not really a standout, though.

Easy Money
We're back into King Crimson territory with this hard rocker. I love this song, and this rendition really does it justice. When it moves out into the instrumental section later, they move it into new directions. It's still very proggy, but it's also quite different from the King Crimson version.
Battle Lines
There is a large chunk of jamming at the start of this piece. The cut eventually works to the song proper. It has a ballad vibe to it. It's an effective cut. It's an AOR rocker for sure.
Heat of the Moment
This Asia rocker gets a stirring performance. It's pretty faithful.
Starless
Here we get back to King Crimson. This is one of my all-time favorite Crimson songs, really. In fact, I think if I wanted to introduce someone to prog rock, and give them a song that represents the best of the genre, I'd pick this tune. I love this rendition, too. It's fairly faithful and very strong.
Don't Cry
The concert is closed with another song from Asia. This number lands more in the pop vein. Still, it's a strong tune.
Live in Osaka 1997
                                   

2nd October 1997

                  
Club Quattoro, Osaka, Japan
It's easy to think of John Wetton as a prog artist. His work in bands like UK and King Crimson (and even Asia) lends credence to that argument. In fact, I'd consider him a prog artist. His solo stuff, though, has a tendency at times to work more toward hard rocking AOR stuff. This live performance seems to find the middle ground between those. It's a bit more of a crunchy show than some of his other live performances. It's very strong, though. In fact, I think I like the more rocking more in some ways.
Disc: 3
                

Intro

This instrumental does a nice job of combining prog and classical sounds in its midst.

The Last Thing on My Mind
There are definitely proggy things going on here. Overall, this is more of an AOR rocker. The verses land in the mellower vicinity, while the choruses rock. Actually, they are a bit on the crunchy side. This is an effective piece of music.
Sole Survivor
Here we get some Asia. They bring some crunch to this one, too. The jam near the end is really fired up and nearly metal.
I Can't Lie Anymore
There is a real metal vibe to this number. It's a hard rocker that works quite well. It still has some prog in the mix, but of the AOR variety.
Battlelines
This is a hard rocker. It's a strong tune for sure. It's definitely more on the hard-edged side from the version in the first concert.
John Young's Solo
Here we get a cool keyboard solo. It starts with piano and then works out at times to more electronic stuff. There are things here that make me think of Keith Emerson. Parts of this are quite classical in nature.
Arkangel
A more balladic piece, this is very much prog rock. It's pretty and quite meaty.
Emma
An acoustic guitar based ballad, this is another beautiful tune.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

This Asia song gets a fairly faithful rendition.

The Night Watch
I've always loved this King Crimson song. This guitar and voice performance is strong.
Hold Me Now
Although this is listed as one song, it's a two-fer. The first half is part of the song "Thirty Years" from UK. It's delivered in some great proggy style. The second half turns to more of an AOR rocker. Yes, they fit together well.
Only Time Will Tell

Another Asia cut, this gets a fairly faithful performance. It's a strong tune and works well here.

Disc: 4
                     

Rendezvous 6:02

Here we get a revisit of a classic UK song. On the one hand this is pretty faithful. That said, the bass brings some hints of funk, lending something different to the piece.

Thomas Lang's Drum Solo
Here we get just what is advertised. I'm probably not the right person to review this as I'm not a big fan of drum solos. This one doesn't change my mind.
Easy Money
Here comes a King Crimson rocker. This perhaps has some crunchier edges than the original. Beyond that it's fairly faithful. The jamming movement takes it in different directions.
In the Dead of the Night
A UK song that's one of my favorites, they bring this to life in style. I really like the instrumental section on this a lot. In fact, as good as the original is, this comes really close. I think this is best performance in this live album.
After All
This is an AOR based tune. It's more or less a power ballad. It's a strong tune that rocks out pretty well in the powered up sections.
Heat of the Moment
This Asia tune gets a solid live telling. There is sing-along part in the midst of it. That comes right after a cool instrumental break. It's not all that faithful, but it rocks.
Starless
Here they tackle one of my favorites from King Crimson. The song proper part is fairly faithful to the original. They turn out into some seriously screaming jamming later in the piece, though. It's like heavy metal turned prog.
Don't Cry

They do a good job of rocking this Asia classic out in style. It's a satisfying conclusion to this live album.

Live at the Sun Plaza Tokyo 1999
                  

5th August, 1999

               
Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan
This live album is pretty good. It suffers a bit in terms of sound quality. It sounds like it was recorded toward the back of the hall. There is a distant, echoey vibe to it. That said, it's only a little annoying. The sound is good enough to enjoy the set. This lands perhaps a bit more on the AOR side, but still has a lot of prog built into it.
Disc: 5

                    
The Circle of St. Giles

This electronic introduction is good.

The Last Thing on My Mind
An AOR rocker, this is good. It's not a real standout, but it works reasonably well.
Sole Survivor
Here they bring some serious metallic crunch to this Asia tune.
Battle Lines

This makes good use of the contrast between mellower and more rocking movements. It's another solid live tune.

Book of Saturday

This mellower King Crimson song gets a great live performance here.

Martin Orford's Solo
This keyboard solo is quite pretty and compelling.
Emma
This is a mellow ballad. I like it a lot. It's intricate and very evocative.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

This Asia tune is deliver in a nice sort of mellow prog approach.

Hold Me Now
This balladic cut is strong. It has some great hooks. It's more piano based here.
The Night Watch
Here we have another King Crimson song. It's a solid rendition.
Only Time Will Tell
Here we get a strong live performance of the Asia classic. There are no surprises here, but rather just a fairly faithful version.
In the Dead of the Night
This is a scorching hot rendition of the UK classic.
Disc: 6
                  

Easy Money

This gets started with an extended instrumental focused on some seriously intricate acoustic guitar work. It eventually works out to an intriguing arrangement of the King Crimson classic.

After All

This balladic cut has an AOR powered up chorus. It's a strong tune. It has a lot of prog built into some of the later sections.

Rendezvous 6:02
Here's a rendition of a classic from UK. They play it pretty faithfully early, but work into some cool prog work in the instrumental section.
Time Again
Here's a bit less obvious Asia tune. It's a smoking hot rocker, and this is a great live version of it.
Starless
This performance of one of my favorite Crimson tunes is a strong one. They turn it almost metallic for a time later in the track. They really turn it into a powerhouse prog jam as they continue.
Heat of the Moment
They turn in a solid live rendition of this Asia tune.
Don't Cry

The audience claps along to this one. It seems to have a bit more of a rock and roll vibe than other versions of this Asia tune I've heard. It's a solid rendition, though.

 
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