The Three Degrees

The Three Degrees Live

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Although they were certainly guilty of some lackluster moments on their studio albums, the Three Degrees were another entity entirely when performing live. On-stage and in front of an audience, they were charged, bounding through snappy sets with phenomenal energy. This 1975 concert, recorded with a full orchestra in Leicester, England, is that pudding's proof. And, being 1975, the band covers all its hits, powering through "TSOP," "When Will I See You Again," and "Dirty Ol' Man" with an easy, breezy style that's a refreshing lift after some more forced moments on the preceding International. But things get really interesting on some inspired and often off-kilter choices included in the set, as listeners hear the band break out of its Philadelphia International cocoon. As a treat for their English audience, according to the band's between-song patter, the Three Degrees punch up Elton John's then-current hit, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," turning it into a quick-stepping R&B-styled groover. Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City," combined with "For the Love of Money," receives similar treatment, while the trio's rendition of the Edgar Winter Group's roots rock classic "Free Ride" takes first place in the oddest cover ever category. It's a wild and well-thought-out set, spotlighting the Three Degrees where they are most comfortable and at their best. The sound is clear and clean, sacrificing some vicarious energy by mixing the obviously enthusiastic audience down but not quite out of the experience. It's a timeless treat.

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