The Seekers

Live at the Talk of the Town

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The Seekers weren't really the kind of group from whom most people ever expected to see a concert album -- their hits seemed to have a very "produced," studio-focused sound that made live performance more a matter of re-creation, or so it seemed. But Live at the Talk of the Town is an extraordinary album, as well as the group's final effort together as a continuing organization, recorded during an engagement at the renowned London restaurant/theater just a week before the quartet was dissolved. It features the group in uncommonly loose-limbed form, having lots of fun with the audience, quite obviously enjoying the performance they're giving, and throwing themselves into it head first; after four years of whirlwind international success, perhaps they knew it would be their last hurrah and their only live recording. They go through their expected hits, backed by the resident Talk of the Town Orchestra (under Burt Rhodes), which punches up the sound of their acoustic instruments without doing violence to the balance of the voices and guitars. Judith Durham starts out putting 100 percent into "Music of the World a Turnin'" and then breaks that barrier on "I'll Never Find Another You," achieving an exquisite balance between power and delicacy of nuance. Athol Guy delights the audience with his account of their roots, and the group runs through their early sound, re-creating themselves as they were circa 1962-1963, even emulating their early Dixieland jazz sound. Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley throw in a choice comedic word or two, and also lend their musical talents a comedic edge without ever losing focus on their core sound. Durham gets to introduce a song of Tom Springfield's called "The Olive Tree," which was beautiful enough to deserve a proper studio recording, and the group manages to work a ragtime number in between the expected folk-pop songs -- the only thing missing that would have made the album 100 percent perfect is "Come the Day," but absent that gap this is better than a perfect album. Woodley, Guy, and Potger even show off their extraordinary singing on "Rattler," a number that's nearly worth the price of the record by itself. A true obscurity, Live at the Talk of the Town seems to have been more common in America as a stamped promo copy than as a commercial release, but it apparently did well across the rest of the world, and is still extremely rewarding almost 40 years later.

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