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Once extremely popular among record buyers of the late '70s, live albums had been gradually losing their cultural relevance ever since the early-'80s introduction of MTV, which finally brought music fans a more generous number of looks at their idols on-stage. But hard rock and heavy metal bands who considered concerts to be the ultimate expression of their craft were still pumping out live documents at a decent clip come 1985, when perhaps the last significant batch of "classic" examples of the genre emerged (many of them double sets at that) -- most notably Iron Maiden's Live After Death and the Scorpions' World Wide Live. Sadly, Triumph's similarly sprawling live opus, Stages, didn't have quite the same impact, nor, tellingly, does it headline quite as many critics and fans' fond memories of years gone by. Among other things (the band's declining popularity ultimately taking precedence), this may have partly stemmed from the fact that, whereas other live albums at least attempted to fake the experience of a single, uninterrupted concert from start to finish, Stages was composed of random performances recorded over the previous three years that were then haphazardly sequenced with audience noise fading in and out between songs. Consider as well that Triumph were a power trio whose drummer sang half the songs, and had therefore come to rely heavily on a stunning laser light show to enhance their stage presence, and it's increasingly clear why Stages failed to ignite fan imaginations -- even with the presence of most all of the band's biggest hits: "Lay It on the Line," "Magic Power," "Fight the Good Fight," etc. To their credit, Triumph probably realized this and perhaps that's why they went to the trouble of recording two brand-new studio tracks for Stages. Unfortunately, neither Gil Moore's smart '80s hard rock single confection "Mind Games" nor Rik Emmett's dragging, weepy ballad "Empty Inside" were fated to join the band's repertoire of on-stage standards.

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