TV Smith

Live at the N.V.A. Ludwigsfelde, Germany

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Most of TV Smith's live shows seem to get taped these days...there are, say his liners, "hundreds of recordings" in circulation today, none of which have "captured the atmosphere of actually being there," and when the organizers of this show said that they'd be taping the gig, he didn't really expect it to be any different. Surprise surprise. "When I got around to listening to [it], I found that we finally had a recording that managed to capture that...the thrill and energy of a live gig."

Thirty songs short (with the between-song patter in German), Live catches Smith running through a very selective, but nevertheless representative rendering of his career so far. "One Chord Wonders" reminds us of his very first single; "In the Arms of My Enemy" flies from his then-most recent album; and, in between times, solo songs dating back to the mid-'80s keep the energy up and the audience whooping. Most of the best-loved numbers are here -- grouchily, we can all dig through the Smith songbook in search of those obscure little favorites that have been dug out from time to time over the years, but if you want a set list that really does hit all the highs, for novices and experts alike, this is as close to perfect as you're going to get. The sound quality if stunning, the packaging is smart, and an evening with Live at the NVA is almost like being there. But only "almost," because if it was any closer to reality, he wouldn't need to gig again. And then what would we do?

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