Perhaps feeling that they should have a real up-to-date live album in their satchel after the half-cocked Bop Doo-Wopp -- and needing some product anyway after the triumphant Vocalese project -- the Manhattan Transfer went back to Tokyo's Nakano Sun Plaza Hall and did another live session. But, as in Bop Doo-Wopp, though these performances take up a whole CD this time, you're not hearing the entire project; the rest of the tunes, all older material, can be seen on the video. What is left is mostly a live version of Vocalese -- eight of its 11 tracks are reprised -- which is perhaps redundant, but just the act of hearing the foursome perform these often-difficult Jon Hendricks-lyricized selections without a net adds to listeners' respect. "Airegin" is particularly challenging -- and yes, they pull it off quite deftly, though without Hendricks' bitter final verse -- and "That's Killer Joe" and "Move" have all of the electricity of the studio versions. The rest of the tunes date back to earlier incarnations of the Transfer -- "Four Brothers" again, a touch of a cappella doo wop in "Gloria," a fine "Shaker Song" -- backed by the Transfer's excellent small combo. Casual listeners who already bought Vocalese don't need this, and the fanatics will have to have it in any case, yet those who have neither album will get a good idea of the excitement that the Transfer could inspire in their hot 1980s creative period.
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell