The two first CD's of this live recording of CV are dating from their most interesting live period in 82 (personal meaning),corresponding to the "2 x 45" album, just after the departure of Chris Watson and before their engagement in their "Dance Techno Trance "period. The sound is a mix of old and new: that is hypnotizing cumbersome recording tapes alterning with very funky rythms (drumming was live for a big deal). They should have developped that kind of music instead of undertaking a total mutation losing nearly their originality. Fortunately, these records witness the Cabaret Voltaire while they were in this transitional state, freezing it for the eternity.
With the high-profile reissue of CV's somewhat and unfairly maligned mid-period (actually their most crucial phase), I feared this boxset from Intone (RHK's own label) was a cynical cash-in release and wouldn't add a great deal to the band's legacy -as such releases traditionally do.
I'm happy and still a little surprised to report the opposite: these are important and high quality recordings. The clarity is impressive, the quality of material and performance is thrilling -sometimes the Cabs could be quite listless and dull live -and genuinely funky, in fact, I found myself grooving hard to CD1, unable to sit still and having a lil' skank to Diskono; the band are in good form here.
The box is well produced, includes quality photographs and insightful notes. All in all, excellent.
I must admit I was unsure about buying this box set initially. Firstly because some previous Cabs live LPs have proved to be a disappointment - witness Live At The Hacienda.'83/'86: 11.08.83/19.02.86. and secondly because two of the three discs are from the group's Rough Trade period which, whilst critically acclaimed, is my least favourite era of Cabaret Voltaire's work. Nevertheless, whilst browsing the net one night I succumbed - perhaps swayed by the quality of previous archival releases on Richard H. Kirk's label, Intone - and, I'm glad I did.
The first two discs are, in fact, particularly good despite the fact I don't favour their earlier work so much myself. The recording quality is excellent and the live performance seems to bring out something different by comparison with the band's recorded sound. Surprisingly the third disc is, perhaps, a minor disappointment. The quality of the recording, though by no means bad, is not in my opinion of the same standard as CDs one and two. Also, whilst the tracklist on the "85" disc contains some of my personal favourites, many of them sound like inferior live versions of the studio recordings (as is often the case with live albums). Stick with it though, because it gets into its stride nearer the end with the likes of "Sleepwalking", "Ghost Talk" and "Kino" - all totally original and never-bettered.
The package is a box containing the discs in three slip-cases plus a 26 page booklet of mostly photos though, some text at the end.
Cabaret Voltaire are a massive influence on electronic music and this 3 CD set is a quality release, however if you're new to the group I would advise holding on for the studio recordings, to be released in November 2013: Collected Works 1983-1985 (considerably more expensive, mind you).