Alive in Japan

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Captured on two consecutive nights of their 1993 tour of Japan promoting the almost forgotten ...Meanwhile album (which was a comeback after their previous release, 1983's equally obscure Windows in the Jungle), this double disc is a cleanly recorded document with few revelations. The Godley & Creme-less lineup runs through their catalog efficiently and with reasonable enthusiasm in front of a traditionally muted Japanese crowd. But these versions are too faithful and eerily similar to the original recorded ones. Since both founding members Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart are aboard, the selections run largely to the post-How Dare You catalog. Not surprisingly, a few songs from ...Meanwhile ("Welcome to Paradise," "The Stars Didn't Show," "Shine a Light in the Dark") sneak into the set list. While these aren't terrible, they are clearly not up to the standard of the rest of the catalog and drag the pace down. Two Beatles covers (a strange, not really appropriate reggae version of "Paperback Writer" and a respectful "Across the Universe") pay tribute to 10cc's biggest influence, but are hardly illuminating, and eliminating them would also have allowed the music to squeeze onto a single disc. The yin-yang between the band's smirking sense of humor displayed in older tracks like "Wall Street Shuffle" and the slick adult MOR of "The Stars Didn't Show" doesn't work well in concert, especially when the group plays as submissively as they do here. Other than paying further tribute to the Beatles, the show and album-closing version of Larry Williams' classic rocker "Slow Down" sounds forced and out of place with the rest of the show. In other words, this set is for fans only; those new to 10cc would do better picking up any one of the band's many greatest hits discs available.

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