Live in Concert, Vol. 2

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10cc's 1993 Japanese tour was a disaster, in musical terms if not (one assumes) financial. Certainly, the ensuing live album has since been released in so many different permutations, and beneath so many different titles, that there can be very few fans who have not bought it at least once. Probably by accident, but the accountants don't care. Live in Concert, Vol. 1 (and, correspondingly, Vol. 2 were the first of these permutations to strike American soil, single discs arrived at by the simple expedient of slicing of the original two-CD package in half, and damn the consequences. In terms of quantity, Vol. 1 is the best. Ten songs, five hits, two Beatles covers. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most lifeless performances you'll ever hear. For quality, then, Vol. 2 might just have the edge -- although the continued banality of the performance renders such a recommendation academic at best. Eric Stewart's guitar showcase "Feel the Benefit" at least reminds us that its maker was once rightly regarded among his instrument's most reliable showmen, and the so-called "Bullets Medley" proves that the band could rock when it wanted to. But "Dreadlock Holiday" and (incredibly) "I'm Not in Love" are little more than bad karaoke, and the closing cover of the oldie "Slow Down" is so anti-climactic as to be a joke. And, while the audience does sound suitably excited, crowd noise alone cannot recommend a live album. Avoid.