LiveSpan, Not Life Span: Alan Parsons's Greatest Hits Live

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Alan Parsons’s LiveSpan is not your average live album, though it is exactly what you might expect from the exacting Alan Parsons—it’s got professionalism and rehearsal written all over it.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad or flat, quite the contrary.  It is clearly live so that old favourites are newly presented, though not reinterpreted.  Songs like “Don’t Answer Me” and “Breakdown” are completely familiar and yet “live enough” to sound new.  LiveSpan is thus a sort of fresh greatest hits.

If there is anything missing from LiveSpan musically it’s the freedom of some jamming. Though there are meek forays off the path, as in “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” but there are no dead-end meanderings or wandering guitar solos.  This is carefully rehearsed stagecraft with only minimal and subdued audience noise on the recording, though reviews of the show exclaim about the audience’s standing ovations.  It is a carefully produced live album.

The recording was made over a two night period in the Beethoven Halle in Stuttgart in the spring of 2013.  The acoustics are phenomenal, the musicianship equal to the setting.  Songs like “La Sagrada Familia” and “The Raven” are beautifully reproduced, somehow straddling the line of live and produced without sounding too staid.  It’s live in the way one would expect the Alan Parsons to be live, professional throughout.

P. J. Olsson does a great job on vocals, including the complete “Turn of a Friendly Card” suite.  The 23 songs on this double LP speak to the professionalism of these musicians and to the wealth of the Alan Parsons Project catalogue.  If you are looking for an Alan Parsons Project greatest hits album, try the live one—LiveSpan.

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