Live! 12/28/2005

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Lake's Live! 12/28/2005 is a cleanly recorded document of the pop/progressive band and captures their no-nonsense approach to Steely Dan inspired quasi- R&B wonderfully. It's Fagen/Becker without the pretensions and complexities, rock executed with little showmanship outside of Lake's great musical chops. This version of the band moves from song to song with precision, superb vocals, and nondescript wardrobes. Guitarist/producer Alex Conti's enormous sound is the true focal point while singer Mike Starrs takes Jon Anderson's cryptic monolithic stage poses to a new level of non-action while dressed like a Southern rocker. But it doesn't matter because the tunes really have it -- from "Let's Go to China" and the hooky "Here We Go Again" to the equally memorable "Driving with Your Eyes Closed." Director Kuno Dreysse gets experimental with some split-screens and quick cuts to the drums, keyboards, different head shots and such on "Dancing with Steve," a song that comes off like it is half disco and a quarter progressive rock with a bit more of its life pulled in from the remnants of Atlanta Rhythm Section. The band is infinitely enjoyable and the material very accessible -- American pop/rock riffs infiltrate each tune -- these gents plucking other people's melodies as blatantly as Bachman-Turner Overdrive -- quite liberally. Yes, they do a nice version of Steely Dan's "Black Friday" while maintaining their own deep harmonies and slick pop style, and as serious as they are, one can't help but feel they sometimes get musically tongue-in-cheek. The camera work is quite adventurous, like public access TV gone wild -- a friendly sort of home movie approach without the slick trappings of, say, the major film production feel of the Live at Montreux DVD series. This lo-fi video approach in the packed intimate setting works better for a cult group like Lake. The sound is superb and the DVD should delight those unaware of this veteran ensemble as well as the band's core audience. The bonus track interview with the members of this version of Lake is in German so those who want to read the English translation are directed to the band's website. There's a one-page promotion inside a region of the DVD for the "Blast of Silence" CD, and no-frills inside the DVD case, which is designed by former Lake bassist Holger Trull, though he doesn't appear on-stage. All in all, a revealing look at a band that deserves a wider audience -- and they are not to be confused with Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, of course.

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