Overview: This is the first album from the current and longest lasting line up in Heep's storied history. It is also one of the most important live recordings in Rock history for the concerts that this album is taken from were the first ever concerts by a Western rock band in the old Soviet Union. Over ten nights, Heep played to 180,000 Russians! (for more details, read the reissue liner notes).
I remember when I first found this on cassette and listened in the car for the first time. It blew me away how well Bernie could handle David Byron's old songs. After listening to this and Spellbinder, I'm convinced that Bernie performs the Byron-era songs better than any other Heep vocalist since David.
The band also plays very well, especially Trevor and Lee, who play off each other almost instinctively. The harmony vocals are very tight, some of the best of any of Heep's live material. Phil's synths are okay on the newer songs but on the old Hensley-era tracks, they just don't fit. His organ playing, however is superb, and his song Mr. Majestic is one of the best tracks Heep has done since Ken Hensley's departure. The addition of Heartache City also shows how good Equator could've been as this version rocks much harder than anything on the studio album.
The weakest parts of the album include the second half of Bird Of Prey, where the band attempts to change the feel but lose the funkiness, some weak production (rectified somewhat in the remaster) and Phil's keyboard solo. Their performance of July Morning, however, more than makes up for it, and you can almost feel the Russians' excitement at finally hearing their "underground national anthem" being played live for the first time in their country. However, Rockarama is simply dreadful. I'd rather listen to a 10 minute Kerslake drum solo or even the studio version than this garbage! If there were indeed other songs from Equator performed at the concerts, as Rob's liner notes seem to indicate, why weren't they included in place of this? Grade: A-
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Content Copyright © 1997 Jay Pearson
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