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Fever Tree - Live at Lake Charles (Shroom Productions, 1998 [rec. 1978])
Another release on the mighty Shroom label. Shroom has been a champion of reissuing hopelessly obscure prog (Hands), fusion (Aurora), and now, with Fever Tree, psychedelic hard rock. Fever Tree apparently released a few records in the early 70s on a major label and then split up. They reformed for at least one final concert, 'cause we're looking at a recording of the band's last-ever gig.
The instrumental "Taft Street Strut" starts things off with a progged-out groove in 5/8 and enough keyboards to keep fans of the label's other bands happy. The few songs after that, however, fall into a rather predictable Grand Funk Railroad or Black Oak Arkansas boogie style that's a bit disappointing after such a strong start. The keyboards in particular go AWOL at this point, only to reappear later on in the album. The main songwriter and the only band member to be profiled in the booklet is guitarist Michael Knust, so it's understandable that he's given center stage.
The fascinating "Angelina" livens things up near the end of the album. A longer track with a delicate groove and a keyboard solo (huzzah!), this is a keeper. Their "Child in Time," I suppose. Things improve even more afterwards, with the jazzy "Party Time Anywhere" and the memorably Santana-ish rocker "Know I Care." A whole album of material of this quality would be very welcome.
The sound quality seems to wane from track to track - surprising, since this is supposedly a recording of a single gig. Ah, here we go [from the liner notes] - "Three different brands of tape were used that night and that resulted in slight anomalies..." Those anomalies manifest themselves in the form of crap sound on some of the tracks and beautifully clear sound on others. A shame, since this robs the record of the continuity a live recording needs. It also robs the band of power and energy on the harder-rocking tracks. Fortunately, the better tracks are the ones where they stray from their boogie bar-band leanings and, er . . . get a little mellow. ~ Mike Thaxton
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