Ian Matthews

Nights in Manhattan (And Points West)

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Originally released in the late '80s as a mail-order-only cassette entitled Ian Matthews Live (he changed the spelling of his first name shortly thereafter), Nights in Manhattan (recorded in New York City in May of 1988) was reissued in 1997 with four added tracks that were recorded live two and a half years later in California (hence the "And Points West"). Matthews, along with Mark Hallman (acoustic guitar, vocals), Craig Negoescu (keyboards, vocals), and David Hayes (acoustic bass), though concentrating on material from Walking a Changing Line, touches on various points in his extensive career -- including his days with Fairport Convention ("Meet on the Ledge"), Matthews' Southern Comfort ("Woodstock"), and Plainsong ("Even the Guiding Light"), as well as a smattering of tunes from his solo years. The performances here are engaging, and Matthews' excellent voice is strong and clear throughout, though the sporadic use of electronic keyboards and sequenced drums is, on occasion, superfluous, and dates a couple of the tracks. A few of the highlights include a stirring, a cappella version of "Woodstock," the Youngbloods' classic "Darkness, Darkness," and a beautiful reading of Jules Shear's "This Fabrication."

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