Le Roux

Higher Up: Live 1980

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Despite sound quality that leaves much to be desired, 2003's Higher Up: Live 1980 is an excellent representation of Le Roux's energetic concerts supporting their third and final record for Capitol. Not surprisingly, the set contains practically all the material from Up, along with a cut or two from 1978's Louisiana's Le Roux and the 1979 follow-up, Keep the Fire Burnin'. The original sextet of Bobby Campo (flute, percussion, vocals), Tony Haselden (electric guitar, vocals), Leon Medica (bass), David Peters (drums, percussion), Jeff Pollard (guitars, lead vocals), and Rod Roddy (keyboards, vocals) is featured at the peak of its craft. Le Roux's versatility is evident as the band flawlessly vacillates between the light and affective "New Orleans Ladies" and the aggressive rockers "Let Me Be Your Fantasy," "Mystery," and the balls-to-the-wall "Crying Inside" -- all of which are from the album Up. The arrangement of the power ballad "Roll Away the Stone" surpasses its studio counterpart, with Pollard's flawless vocals and equally exceptional electric fretwork taking the version found here to a whole new stratum. They reach back to their first LP for a jamming quarter-hour reading of "Slow Burn," and the extended "Cooking With Le Roux" section allows the combo to stretch into instrumental detours, notably some fiery exchanges from Roddy, Medica, and Peters, along with similarly blistering runs from the tag-team lead electric guitars of Pollard and Haselden. Even after expending such intensity, they come out fighting with a hard-hitting attack on "Let Me Be Your Fantasy," which segues directly into "Back to the Levee" -- notable as the only cut included from Keep the Fire Burnin'. There's one more blast from the past as the show draws to a close with the pairing of the Louisiana's Le Roux tune "Take a Ride on a River Boat" and a driving "Waiting on Your Love."

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