Bobby Conn / Bobby Conn & The Glass Gypsies

Live Classics, Vol. 1

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Based on Live Classics, Vol. 1's artwork alone, the Bobby Conn & the Glass Gypsies live experience looks like a glam rock-fueled blast, with enough shiny outfits, glitter eye shadow, and cool sunglasses for the audience as well as the band. Live Classics, Vol. 1 sounds nearly as good as it looks, though it suggests that Live Classics, Vol. 2 should be a concert DVD to get the full impact of Conn's live show. Though the songs are stripped of their studio gloss, tracks like "Angels" and "Winners" still remain great examples of Conn's fusion of glam, disco, soul, metal, and show tunes, and with arrangements that include organ, electric violin, and bongos, he and the Glass Gypsies don't sacrifice any of the sonic detail of their songs on the road. The band does rock harder in person, though, with the formerly laid-back "Baby Man" and "Cashing Objections" taking on some of the punch of rockers like "Style I Need" (which is as much of a highlight here as it was on Conn's 2004 album Homeland). Recorded in summer 2005, "in front of a studio audience," Live Classics, Vol. 1 takes a fair amount of its tracks from Homeland, including the standout "We Come in Peace," but the band's set list wanders through all of Conn's discography, including Rise Up!'s title track and "White Bread," and the 1997 single "Never Get Ahead," the album's aptly theatrical finale. Some songs, such as "No Revolution," go on for just a bit too long, and the numerous interludes and guitar solos nod to the expansive nature of playing live with mixed results, but "United Nations" takes on a Rocky Horror Picture Show-style grandiosity that only playing it in concert could achieve. Live Classics, Vol. 1 is good enough, and different enough from Conn's studio albums, to make it worthwhile for most of his fans, and the bonus material, which includes bonus tracks and videos for "We Come in Peace" and "Home Sweet Home," make it even more so.

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