Top positive review
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Jarre's best live album from the 80's
on 14 January 2003
Jean Michel Jarre was the first western musician to be invited to play within the People's Republic of China in October 1981. The concerts were not a huge success: the Chinese audience were unfamiliar with the format and the style of music, and they only warmed to the laser show (which was very impressive at the time). The music was largely underrated, which is a shame as I feel that this CD remains one of Jarre's most impressive works. It collects together excerpts from five concerts that played in Peking in Shanghai.
What makes this album stand out over his other material is the beautiful compositions he wrote to bring his western electronic style in harmony with a traditional oriental symphony orchestra. This is no better illustrated than on the track 'Fishing Junks at Sunset' which is completely mesmerising. Other new tracks he wrote for the concerts include an upbeat track 'Orient Express' and a fascinating piece called 'Night in Shanghai' which really does conjure the mood of walking through different parts of a hot sticky city at night, from the bustle of restaurants to the peace of sitting by the harbour. The final track, "Souvenir of China" is very moody, a slow burning track that suggests weariness, punctured with the incessant click of the Nikon. It's the most autobiographical track JMJ has ever produced.
The rest of the album is mainly taken from 'Magnetic Fields' including a magnificent live version of 'Magnetic Fields 2' (which has since been re-used in many of his live performances). The first track "Overture" is a little bit of a cheek--it's actually a slowed down version of Magnetic Fields 1. There are also a couple of 'Equinoxe' tracks, but there are no versions of Oxygene on this album even though it was his most well known music at the time. The only track that lets it down, and one I have never really liked is 'The Last Rumba (Magnetic Fields 5)' which felt tacked on to the end of the Magnetic Fields album, and still feels out of place here.
Overall this is an excellent album, and if you're a Jarre fan who doesn't already own it, or if you like classical oriental music, I urge you to make the purchase.