The Tea Party


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Although it is often misplaced as a bootleg item for its frequent unavailability in the US, Alhambra is actually an enhanced CD-ROM EP that doubles as a showcase for alternate -- and, in some cases, more revealing -- acoustic versions (and one ill-fated remix) of several songs from the band's 1995 album, The Edges Of Twilight; in fact, the only new material to be found here is "Time," a collaboration with the band's close friend and long-time British folk legend Roy Harper (a collaborative favor returned by Martin on Harper's 2000 release, The Green Man) that, to most Tea Party fans, will probably be worth the price paid alone. However, despite this lacking wealth of new or previously unreleased material, these renovations of past songs shine with such an ineffable light and speak with such ingeniously thick accents about the striking ability and vision of the music here, that the band is still able to create something entirely worthwhile for the die-hard and casual fan alike; the only stumble to be found is on Rhys Fulber's remix of "Sister Awake," which is interesting, to be sure, but cannot hope to offer up the passion and power of the original, and thus, is doomed in the steep trap of its own purpose. In stripping down the electric-oriented arrangements for songs like "The Bazaar" (entitled "The Grand Bazaar" in this version) and "Silence," the band demonstrates just how talented they are in any setting by allowing their abilities in blending extremely strong melody with eastern instrumentation and arranging to flourish away from the high alters of rock and roll. Furthermore, almost everything to be found here continues to prove what a truly gifted -- and more importantly, unique -- songwriter and lyricist Jeff Martin really is. The enhanced capabilities of the CD contain such things as the videos to "Sister Awake" and "Shadows On The Mountainside," live performance clips, a complete discography, and other collected amenities for the fans, but it must be noted that many people have had difficulties with getting the enhanced section to work properly on their CD-ROM for whatever reason even though the album, itself, plays without problem. At the end of the day, Alhambra may not win over hordes of new fans, but it is a must-have for anyone already familiar with the Tea Party and an essential entry into the collection of the fanatic.

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