Spirit of the West

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Following the release and relative commercial failure of 1997's Weights and Measures, Spirit of the West returned with this compilation featuring four previously unreleased live recordings (from the Open Heart Symphony live recording). Although a number of their "classic" songs are here, and it is nice to have a compilation of their better moments, it is somewhat disappointing overall. The "bonus" live tracks add very little (listeners do not need two versions of "And If Venice Is Sinking" on the same CD), and the "humorous" moment ("That's Amore" sung by drummer Vince Ditrich) is just annoying. Also, because WEA do not have the rights to the first two albums by Spirit of the West, albums such as Labour Day and Tripping up the Stairs are represented by inferior live versions of great tracks ("Political" and "The Crawl"). The songs are not arranged chronologically, so listeners can not hear how the band grew over the years. Finally, the packaging is somewhat disturbing in that the new member Tobin Frank is listed in the lineup, even though he does not play on any of the songs, while former member Linda McCrae does not even get a mention, let alone credit for playing on all of the songs (save those from Weights and Measures on which she does not appear). That said, it does serve as a fair overview as well as a good introduction to the band.

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