The British label Esoteric Recordings is doing a great job by re-releasing the complete back catalogue of Sky. As you probably may know we here at Background Magazine are trying to keep you updated about what has been released already. We did a duo review of Sky and Sky2 (see review) which were originally released in 1979 and 1980. Next we did a duo review of Sky3 and Sky4 Forthcoming (see review) which were released for the first time in 1981 and 1982. All of those reissues had bonus tracks and an additional disc which contained videos of the band's TV shows and concerts. The next reissue follows the next album release of the band when they were still active. Namely the bands first live release Five Live. Originally released January 1983.
After the band had released Sky4 Forthcoming they embarked on a world tour which would lead them to Australia, Europe and Japan. During the band's several concerts in the home country of the two guitar players John Williams and Kevin Peek some were recorded for a possible live album. Strangely enough the band chose to perform in Australia a lot of at the time unreleased compositions next to the audience favourites. I guess it was a way to try out some new things. The results of those recordings did led to the release of Five Live. A double album that was a little disappointing for me when it originally came out. Mainly because of the fact that I didn't hear a lot of the band's well known pieces. I heard old favourites such as Hotta, Dance Of the Little Fairies and Sahara, .which were all originally taken from the bands critically acclaimed second album Sky2. Finally from Sky3 I heard only Meheeco. However they sounded in a way different compared to the original studio versions. It was chosen from a more jazzy approach, midway lot of improvisation. The rest of the material on Five Live turned out to be new material.
This includes a rather monumental piece titled The Animals which that lasts more than 20 minutes. Another track is The Swan which is more classical music orientated. The new composition KP I is closer to what the band offered on the first three albums. The second part KP II is more a straight rocker. Antigua is a slow, soft and laidback piece of music. Sakura Variations is a traditional Japanese song. The less interesting new track is without doubt Bathroom Song. This one sounds rather monotonous. During this song Steve Gray is playing the piano and bassist Herbie Flowers is singing "la, la, la" while the remaining members are not heard.
I must confess in those days I didn't play this double album a lot. Therefore this newly remastered 2 CD edition sounds to me like an album with a lot of new pieces of music. Just as when I heard it for the first time 32 years ago. The album had been earlier reissued on a single disc. But never with the 20-minute piece The Animals, which originally featured on the vinyl double LP. Now with this splendid new reissue the original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay. This time around no extra DVD disc is included. However also without this extra feature Five Live is a great live album. You can hear a band that was always at the top of their game! Even if they played more new stuff than their own classics at the time!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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