To anyone familiar with the other Banco De Gaia albums then a lot of this will be familiar territory - and that is no bad thing in my opinion. Anyone who isn't would find this an interesting starting point.
The live disc is excellent. Unlike the Glastonbury album, there is little audience noise, so if it had not said so on the cover I would not have realised the songs were played live. But apart from the rather limp mix of Soufie, the songs are all fine, especially the last two, Drunk as a Monk and Last Train to Lhasa.
The studio album is interesting in that the first three songs are covers. I presume they are favourites of Toby Marks and they definitely are of mine, so I was intrigued to know how they would sound. There is no point doing a cover unless it offers something different and in this respect I think all three here work well enough, but without surpassing the originals.
The first, Spirit of the Age by Hawkwind has Robert Calvert's vocal performed as though spoken by someone making a public information broadcast - strange but enjoyable. Next is Starless off of King Crimson's album Red. I was surprised how well this has been adapted and while no attempt has been made to emulate Robert Fripp's memorable guitar solo I thought this the best of the three. Then there is Pink Floyd's Echoes which, at over twenty two minutes long is pretty faithful structurally, but is a bit of a mess musically, with the second half failing to match the blissful heights Gilmore and co did with the original - but it's a lot better than the bootleg "remix" that was around a few years ago.
The other three tracks are remakes of songs originally recorded by Banco De Gaia in the early nineties, the best being Soufie which is much livelier that the live version on disc two.
Definately recommended for fans and for anyone else who is curious.