I wrote a review of the companion to this CD ("Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971") a couple of months back for Amazon UK. Most of you probably alternate constantly between the Amazons like I do and will therefore have seen that review, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. In fact the best part of "Cosmic Energy" is arguably the 38 minutes bonus taken from one of those Queen Elizabeth Hall shows. I am sure someone will give me an argument here, but I would say that the band were really at their peak in 1971 and so the music from the live shows at that time is generally smoother and more assured than from the earlier period. By '71 the band had mastered the art of 38 minute jams where one section segued seamlessly into the next with the sublime and the beautiful gradually building to peaks of ecstasy and tumultuous crescendos. The "Giants Suite" included here is a fine example of that and, I should emphasize, is NOT included on the actual Queen Elizabeth Hall CD. The earlier Quintessence was not so adept at the very long extended jams but lead guitarist Alan was a lot more up front and incisive then, with a fondness for the wah wah pedal and plenty of sustained feedback, in contrast to the cleaner more melodic sound of '71 and '72.
Having just said that the band did not reach their peak until '71, I have to admit to attending an astonishing performance at Sheffield University on 2 July '70 - one of three Quintessence gigs I attended that are missing from the chronology in the otherwise excellent CD booklet incidentally. It was an end of school year festival with a heap of bands playing from noon until midnight. Quintessence came on in the early evening and absolutely blew us away. Such was their impact on myself that I can barely remember anyone else who played that day now, though there were certainly a couple of big names. In fact it was the first time I'd seen Quintessence and would not be the last. They did two or three encores with us still jumping up and down and screaming for more until the organizers finally turned the house lights on and the power to the amps off - understandable as they had a few more bands still scheduled to play.
Quintessence at their best was the most uplifting live band I've ever seen in forty odd years of attending concerts and on a good night they could match anyone musically. On any night they could surpass everyone else in terms of the atmosphere created, the good vibes, and the involvement of the audience.
The sound quality on the St Pancras tracks is certainly inferior to the Queen Elizabeth material, but because that earlier material has a more raw feel to it anyway that probably doesn't matter too much. In fact if I hadn't heard the '71 concert first I would probably not even have noticed the sound quality. As it is I'm giving this CD 4 stars rather than 5. I would suggest that if possible you buy this one first and then move on to "Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall". To properly appreciate the unique legacy of Quintessence you absolutely have to own both of them. Any collection of psych/prog/jam is deficient until these two CD's are included.