If you are a Jackie Leven fan, this live CD is something you need to have. For those that aren't Leven fans, I don't think that this would be the best place to start, but then again, it gives you a fairly accurate overview of what this supremely talented and underrated artist was all about. Leven had the voice on an angel, the soul of a poet, the wit of a comedian, and the spirit and chops of a diehard rock and roller. Combine all of that with brilliant songs and crafty guitar playing, and you have a singer-songwriter who should have been MUCH better known and loved during his lifetime.
This CD is a live set that Leven recorded ("one live performance with no changes or studio improvements") at The Twelve Bar Club in London in 1996. This was the start of a very productive period for Leven. For the next 15 years I think he put out at least an album per year. And they are all good or great. After being the lead vocalist of the great band Doll By Doll (late 70s and early 80s; get ALL of their albums!), Leven had a "down period" until he resurfaced, drug-free and re-engergized in the mid 90s.
These live recordings run the gamut from bluesy material, to folkier stuff, and a few more rock-ish compositions. The musical power and emotion, not to mention Leven's ethereal vocals, propel these songs to heady heights. Some of the in-between songs patter is fun, and sometimes hilarious (ask John Wesley Harding about the "Acid Roast Beef" bit!). There are a few misses (Jackie forgets the lyrics while doing a cover of "Pale Blue Eyes"), but songs like "Main Travelled Roads" and "Call Mother a Lonely Field" are nothing short of brilliant, as is his stunning cover of Van Morrison's "Slim Slow Slider," the track that closes this set. Leven is an important artist who is sorely missed. The man should be a musical legend.