Robin Lane & The Chartbusters

5 Live

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Coming in between the first album, Robin Lane & the Chartbusters and 1981's Imitation Life, was this five-song EP from Warner Bros which included a cover of what was an FM hit for the Who and an AM hit for the Guess Who, Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over," it not so coincidentally follows Robin Lane's song about an earthquake, "8.1." The band was one of Boston's best live acts, with some of the members having gone through rigorous regimentation at the hands of the brilliant and equally difficult Jonathan Richman as his Modern Lovers. This is the best production of the three platters on Warner Bros, but it still fails to capture that sweeping Byrds-meets-Flamin' Groovies sound which made Lane so very popular in Boston. This is the fourth version of "When Things Go Wrong" to find its way onto vinyl, two studio versions by the Chartbusters and one by the Pousette-Dart Band failed to get the national attention the song deserves. Lane's voice is shot, the liners noting that this was recorded at "the end of a grueling summer tour that took the band over 14,000 miles of highway." It sounds it. Had Warner Bros taped the group prior to the tour in a small Boston club where they ruled, they would have captured the nuances of Lane's beautiful voice, and the sparkling musicianship which truly broke new ground for a Boston band. They were one of the best and their major-label marriage failed to document what the band was all about. "Lost My Mind," "When You Compromise," and "8.5" are originals not on either studio album, and the band sounds more like the B-52's performing on the big Orpheum stage. That beautiful, condensed sound is enlarged here, and Lane sounds like a female Fred Schneider on some of this, through no fault of her own. This remains an important document of an important time. Still, it would have been nice to have more of the concert on this disc, with a better mix. Even the addition of the group's original three-song demo could have made this medium-priced project a tool to break this essential band with.

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