In Real Time was produced by the band for Release in 1987 so they could have something to peddle to the masses that would be seeing them as the opening act for a certain Jethro Tull during the "Crest Of A Knave" tour.
It was recorded live in the studio (at the band's own Woodworm Records) with pre-recorded audience sounds tacked on, pictures from the Cropredy Festival were included to lead all to believe it was recorded there.
That said even if it is "The Phony Live Album" it is a most excellent one and also one of the best recordings in the band's history.
It begins with "Reynard The Fox", and the playing is stellar, Ric Sanders is way on top of this one, taking is fiddle where no one has gone before or since. "Widow of Westmorland's Daughter" has about a million words in it and vocalist Simon Nicol sings em' all in just over three minutes, best version of this ditty on record. Next up is the "Hiring Fair", first heard on a Swarbrick/ Nicol record in the early 80's, this version is way better because Simon's voice had matured to a fine instrument by 1987, and the fantastic "Cosmic" solo by Ric is just amazing...on seeing the band play this in 89, my friend called it "Soul Fiddlin" and I tend to agree with that.
"Crazy Man Michael", sounds really pretty, some reviewers really hate this version because it's a lot different from the original...well even without Richard's guitar, it's still worth a listen.
Side Two starts up with "Close To The Wind" and it's my favorite on this Disk, quite simply put it's a GREAT song and and the band's performance is fantastic. Next is the show closer "Matty Groves" in it's late 80's arrangement and it's my favorite of the dozens of versions out there on other CD's, but that said, I do wonder how it's gonna sound the next time the boy's are at the Palms Playhouse in Winters, Ca. Tacked on at the end of the disk is the 87 version of "Meet On The Ledge", lot's of folks do not like this version for some reason or another, I don't get it, can't understand why it ticks off these people, like "Mattty" it's my favorite version of this classic (along with Iain Matthews solo rendering live in concert).
If I were to have a complaint about "In Real Time"... I'd wish it was twice it's current length...... FIVE STARS.