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The Seeds-Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box [Special Edition]

The Seeds

Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box [Special Edition]

Format: CD   Release Date: 01/27/2014
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As they unwittingly proved with their overly ambitious concept album Future, the Seeds were at their best when they kept things simple and to the point, and in 1968, uncertain where to go next after Future tanked, they decided it would be a good idea to document their energetic live show with a concert album. However, in order to best control the audio, they ended up cutting a live set in a studio rather than taping an actual concert, laying in the sounds of cheering fans after the fact. The results were released as Raw and Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box, even though it was recorded at Western Recorders studio in Hollywood rather than the folk-oriented coffeehouse name-checked in the title, and the incongruous-sounding cheers and applause, which rise and fall at unpredictable moments, give away the game that this is that curious artifact of the era, The Fake Live Album. However, as such things go, this is one of the best Fake Live Albums ever, and a better-than-average Seeds set as well. The songs really were cut live to tape, with no overdubs and edits, and the Seeds sound plenty tight and enthusiastic here, with Sky Saxon's vocals reaching a near feral intensity on "Satisfy You," "Night Time Girl," and "900 Million People Daily All Making Love" and Jan Savage's guitar work cutting significantly deeper than in the original recordings of these tunes. A few new tunes were played at the "live" sessions, and "Humble and Bumble" and "The Gypsy Plays His Drums" aren't milestones in the Seeds' catalog, but they attack the hits with force and commitment, and the almost ten-minute rave-up on "Up in Her Room" is some sort of crazed triumph. Maybe not raw, but more alive than you think, and one of the Seeds' best offerings. [In 2104, Ace/Big Beat Records released a remastered and expanded edition of Raw and Alive that included the original mix of the LP as well as an alternate version without the overdubbed cheers and applause. The material seems a bit sterile without any audience sounds, but the audio is clearer and better detailed, and the force of the performances is excellent, especially the noisy fervor of Saxon's vocals. A bonus disc includes an earlier attempt to cut a Seeds live set in the studio -- with a small audience on hand -- and while the vibe is interesting, the performances are loose and unfocused, and it's not hard to see why this version was scrapped. The remastering is excellent throughout, and the 28-page booklet includes many rare photos and excellent, well-researched liner notes from Alec Palao. This is as definitive a release of Raw and Alive as we're ever likely to see, and serious Seeds fans will need this in their collections.] ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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