John Waite new album

JOHN WAITE – Live All Access

John Waite - Live All AccessLive albums. Can you remember the last time you picked up one of those and it made you go WOW!!!? When was the last truly great live album released? I mean, back in the 70’s we had Kiss Alive and Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous and today Iron Maiden’s Live After Death and Scorpions’ World Wide Live are also hailed as classics. But no matter how I hard I try I really can’t come to think of any live album that stands out as a live killer, released after 1984. And in this day and age, isn’t the live album as a CD format more or less dead? I mean, every band and artist that releases live material these days, releases them as a DVD that has usually also been packaged up with a CD – but in those cases the CD is more of a bonus thing. So if you’re gonna release a live album now, you really need to give the buyer something extra or the product will disappear quicker than it arrived! When I was a kid, I loved live albums. Of course, back then we had vinyl records and we weren’t just a click away from the music. It was more like 30 – 60 minutes away on a train from the music – if we were lucky. However, I really loved to listen to my favourite bands live versions of the studio tracks – especially if the band had line up changes since the last studio release. Today, not so much, I’m afraid. First of all, the live albums of today has been so cleaned up in the studio that they are more studio albums than live dittos. I know that they re-recorded stuff on earlier live albums as well, but on those, the live feel were still there and it’s really hard to hear the overdubs on many of them. Today a live album sounds just like studio album with crowd noises in between tracks. So boring!

That’s why it was really good to hear that John Waite (ex The Babys, Bad English) had released a live album without any overdubs at all. A legal bootleg with better sound, if you will. And listening to the album, you can hear that this is a live album, as in LIVE, and it’s really impressive to hear how tight John and his band, that consists of Keri Kelli (guitar), Tim Hogan (bass) and Rhondo (drums), are. With musicians like these, who needs overdubs? The band really kicks up a spark in great opener “Changes” from his debut album Ignition, which is followed by two of the best songs off his most recent album Rough And Tumble, the rockier “Better Off Gone” and the raw, but beautiful ballad “If You Ever Get Lonely”, a classic John Waite ballad. “Head First” rocks further in a great way and the guys gives us a great, bluesy ballad in “In Dreams” from the True Romance Soundtrack, the run through a great version of “Mr Wonderful” from Waite’s debut album, “Evil”, also from Rough And Tumble, rocks great, but the na-na-na-na refrain feels a bit dated, I must say. The No Brakes ass kicker “Saturday Night” closes the album – and my first thought is: Now what?

And there lies one of the problems with this live album – it’s too short. Way to short. Eight songs isn’t even close to enough. And this is John Waite we’re talking about. The guy has a treasure chest full of awesome songs that are more or less a must on a live album like this. The guy has released not only a bunch of solo albums, but also with bands like The Babys and Bad English. “These Time Are Hard For Lovers”? “Missing You”? “Don’t Lose Any Sleep”? “Tears”? And those are just a few of the  solo hits. “When I See You Smile” by Bad English? And I haven’t even mentioned all the great stuff that never became hits but that would work like a charm on a live disc. I almost feel cheated here!  Another thing that bugs me here is that they have chosen to fade the songs, or at least the audience’s noise in between songs. I can’t for my life imagine why you want to do such a thing. I mean, here we get a live album, raw and fresh, with a band that clearly has found a spark and on top of that, no overdubs – and they chose to fade the songs?  I’m sorry, but a lot of the live feel gets lost that way. So, while this live album had a big chance on a 10/10 rating here, all the ingredients are there for the use, I simply can’t give it a higher rate than what you read below. There ais absolutely nothing wrong with the songs, with the performances and the live feel DURING the songs at all, but as a whole, this album could have been a much better experience.  Can I have another one, but a double without any fadings?!

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

1. Change
2. Better off Gone
3. If You Ever Get Lonely
4. Head First
5. Mr. Wonderful
6. In Dreams
7. Evil
8. Saturday Night

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