My favourite Tangerine Dream (TD) eras were undoubtedly the ones that are called The Blue Years and The Melrose Years. During these periods TD released great albums as Underwater Sunlight (1986, see review), Optical Race (1988), Lily On The Beach (1989) and Melrose (1990). At the time founding member Edgar Froese worked together with musicians like Paul Haslinger, Christopher Franke, Johannes Schmoelling and his son Jerome Froese. In general the tracks on these albums are very melodic and contain fantastic guitar and keyboard solos. Back then TD still used sequencers to provide the rhythms, but they also used drum machines and electronic drums that gave the music a certain live feel. The combination of all these elements makes the aforementioned albums very enjoyable for progressive rock devotees. I guess that's why I also enjoyed Live Miles, recorded during that same era. It's now re-released on the Reactive-label, a sub label of Esoteric Recordings. This is a reissue as it is supposed to be with many pictures and good liner notes!
The album was originally released in 1988 as Livemiles. In the nineties the album title slightly changed to Live Miles. The first half of the album contains half an hour of music which was part of recordings made during a concert in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA) on June 8, 1986. The second half an hour is a remixed version of recordings taken from a concert in West Berlin, Germany on August 1, 1987. This concert was held to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Berlin. As usual with TD, the audience had no clue of what they were going to experience while attending one of those concerts. During that era it was rather common for TD to improvise much of the music on the spot. So when you listen to a live record of TD you mostly hear new music that isn't available as a studio version. The extended pieces displayed on Live Miles cover many musical moods and textures throughout the playing time of almost half an hour: from slow and haunting, through up-tempo and uplifting; from driving and percussive, to grand and majestic. It's all present on both tracks!
I think Live Miles is of a historical significance at least among the loyal TD fan base. The Berlin show from August 1987 was the last that featured long-time band member Chris Franke on keyboards. He quit the group the next day, after joining the electronic trio for over sixteen years leaving the two remaining members Edgar Froese (synthesizer, bass, guitar, keyboards) and Paul Haslinger (synthesizer, guitar, keyboards) behind.
The venue and the recording history behind Live Miles have been questioned often. Some people gave a careful analysis of the complete audience recording from the Albuquerque concert, including the sound checks, and revealed that none of the Albuquerque Concert on Live Miles originates from this show. Further, they suggested that after careful listening to other concert recordings from the 1986 American tour this material was likely to be recorded after the 1986 tour. Some of the material featured in concerts had been played in 1988 after the departure of Chris Franke.
Even with all the additional information about Live Miles I still feel very positive about it, because the two pieces of music on this album are both worthwhile listening to. Live Miles certainly belongs to Tangerine Dream's best live albums!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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