Inconsistent but worth a listen
serenademechris | Spring Hill, TN USA | 04/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The band breathes new life into "River of Hope", "King of Emotion", and "Winter Sky" with this live acoustical album. The version of "The Buffalo Skinners" presented here even outperforms the studio recording on the "Ships" CD single. The covers of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", and Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" are excellent listens. Unfortunately, the cover tracks on which Stuart Adamson does not sing lead drag the album down. Such tracks, "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Sling It", contain nothing to define them as Big Country tunes. In addition, the light and airy arrangement of "Where the Rose Is Sown", while enjoyable, betrays its dark subject matter of facing death in a war zone.If you're already a BC fan, as I am, you will enjoy this. If not, this is not the place to start. Try "Without the Aid of a Safety Net" (the same concert is also sold as "Greatest Hits Live") if looking for a consistently solid live BC album."
It Soars and It Sinks
JD Cetola | Omaha, NE USA | 05/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Big Country's "Eclectic" is as mixed a live album as the band has ever released (including their many internet-only releases). This is an acoustic live show (the excellent "Without the Aid of a Safety Net" featured seven acoustic numbers and seven electric numbers and is, by far, the better album) with some mildly annoying female backing vocals and violin (fiddle, really) accompanyment in an effort to make up for the missing electric guitar solos that made this band so easily identifiable (and enjoyable).Nevertheless, this album does have some shining moments. "River of Hope" and "King of Emotion" translate very well to this medium and are actually rendered some new, toe-tapping life on this set. Additionally, "Winter Sky", "Where the Rose is Sown", and "Come Back to Me" sound as emotional as they ever have. This alone makes the album worth owning.On the downside, the covers are good and bad. The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", Springsteen's "I'm on Fire", the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", and the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" are all competently rendered and enjoyable. However, the decision to include Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" with Carol Laula singing lead vocals is a bit of a mystery (and downright annoying). Similarly, Steve Harley's lead vocals on his self-penned (although very much "All Along the Watchtower" sounding) "Sling It" detract from the overall enjoyment of this release. Also included is a curious rendition of "Summertime" and an acoustic, somewhat unemotional version of "Buffalo Skinners" (the original, on the "Ships" cd-single is one of the most powerful songs the band has ever performed and includes an electric guitar solo of emotion unsurpassed in the band's history).Overall, there's enough to recommend this cd--just be prepared to hit the skip button for the tracks not sung by Stuart Adamson. The music is generally emotional and will get your toes tapping like Big Country was prone to do."