Moby Grape

Dark Magic

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

A double CD of unreleased live performances from 1966-69, as well as the rare mid-'60s single by Peter & the Wolves, a garage band that featured Peter Lewis. This isn't a bad thing for the serious Moby Grape fan to have, although the quality of both the performances and the audio is quite variable. The five songs from their 1967 slot on the Monterey Pop Festival are up to the level of official release; three songs cut at a New York club in 1968 are almost as good. The rest is rougher (though usually of listenable fidelity), and shows them prone to much more aimless blues jamming than they were wont to deploy on their official albums. There are some nice renditions of standbys like "Omaha" and "Sitting By the Window" here, as well as more obscure numbers like "I Am Not Willing," "Bitter Wind," and "It's a Beautiful Day," but these aren't as polished or memorable as the studio versions. It does provide an interesting snapshot of the group as they sounded onstage, and although the price tag is steep, it's certainly good value for the money, clocking in at over 75 minutes per disc -- something to remember next time you read a quote from some music industry official claiming that bootlegs are the biggest consumer ripoffs on the planet.