The performances from which this album is comprised must have been an embarrassment of riches. That's one way of explaining how this live double-LP set came to be released -- that and the fact that Rare Earth's peak years coincided with the commercial heyday of the live album. Whatever the reason, In Concert was the most expansive live recording ever issued by Motown Records. What's more, it all works in terms of being an honest representation of this band -- not that they compromised much in the studio, where their rendition of "Get Ready" ran 20 minutes, but playing to an audience was what they'd been about from the start, and everything here resonates with the joy of that process. And in addition to capturing the band in top form, the recording itself provided a beautifully vivid sound picture, every instrument and voice captured spot-on, all the more amazing considering the size of this band and the complexities of their sound -- flutes, guitars (acoustic and electric), keyboards, saxes, percussion, and more are all here in close detail, but nothing more solid in the mix than John Persh's lead bass work in the middle section of the 23-and-a-half-minute "Get Ready." Their reshaping of "What'd I Say" also works well as a concert number, and pretty much everything here is a joyous celebration of what this band and their era were about -- the group-credited jam "Thoughts" isn't the most interesting moment here, but it does avoid the pitfalls of the most excessive work of its period and can sustain its ten-minute length without trouble. The passage of time has also allowed one to appreciate the full technical range of this record -- by 1971, live recording had become so sophisticated that the producers were even able to give an expansive stereo sound picture, which came out well on the vinyl and is even better on digital reissues.
In Concert Review
by Bruce Eder