Quite possibly the best live rock album ever recorded, although there's bags of soul, blues and perhaps a tiny smattering of jazz in there too. The album's quality is all the more remarkable when you read the stories about the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, it is frankly surprising they even made it onto stage each night, and this recording should have been an sonic disaster; but out of the chaos came something truly wonderful to behold.
Cocker is best known as a singer, not a writer, some say this as a criticism, but who cares when he sings great songs such as these as well as he does. Cocker has a monumentally fantastic voice and is one of a select few people who can take a well known song and give it an worthwhile individual twist.
Stand out tracks for me are a truly fantastic rendition of 'Cry me a river', the keyboards, horns and assembled backing vocals raise it up beyond a mere song to a real event, ditto for 'The Letter' and 'Space Captain' all three songs featuring some fantastic piano and keyboards from Leon Russell, the man who holds this whole album together (Joe, if legend is to be believed was barely holding himself together!). The tracks are busy, there's always plenty going on in the background, there is a terrific depth of backing vocals and supporting musicians, not least the superb horns section. The whole album gives a wonderfully chaotic impression of a big group of talented musicians just having a whale of a time. The band sound informal but still tight, with Joe's voice dominating the proceedings and Leon's piano guiding it all along, everyone just sounds like they are having a great time and it becomes kind of infectious. If you've never heard it, it's time you shared it. This album is forty years old, plenty of live albums have been recorded in that time, few even come close to this; it is a masterpiece.