'Live' LP Reviews
'Melody Maker' 4th February 1984
LP Review by Paul Strange
It's a bit odd really. Only a few months after their debut LP, 'Vocabulary', landed on my desk and departed with some commendations, recommendations and reservations, a Europeans live album mysteriously appears.
Most bands make a live album after three or four successful studio LPs, so why this one so soon ? And aren't the band scraping the barrel a but when six of the ten tracks popped on their debut album, and another cut, 'Going to Work' was the B side to 'American People' ? There are only three unreleased tracks here ... surely this is a bit of a cop-out ?
Before the four-piece Europeans rush up to the Maker's HQ to give me a big one up the hooter, I should explain that this live LP is actually budget price (£2.99). And it's limited edition.
Fortunately it offers great value for money, gives a fair taste of what the band can produce live, and some of the songs sound better than they did on the 'Vocabulary' album.
Additionally the band are currently finishing off their second studio LP and don't intend to play many of the songs from this album once their new set is complete. Thus 'Europeans Live' could be the last chance to hear much of their old material in a live setting. Simple, huh ?
The previously unreleased stuff first. 'Typical' opens up the proceedings with a fair amount of clout and dash. Questioning, provocative and thoughtful, it features a smart hook, friendly insistent guitar work from Colin Woore, Ferg Harper's driving vocal and authoritative bass lines, some sparkling ivory gems from Steve Hogarth and Geoff Dugmore's consistently excellent drumming.
I once called 'Joining Dots' a 'pop shiner', and here it lives up to the description admirably. Steve Hogarth chips in with his chirpy upper register vocals, there's a wondrously rumbling middle eight and although slightly untogether in places, it's good to hear it on vinyl.
'Tunnel Vision' is a bit of thumper that doesn't bear much repetition. Sizzling cymbals on the intro set it off neatly and the general structure of the song is adequate enough, but Hogarth's over-enthusiastic vocals let it down slightly and the instrumental break leaves me unimpressed.
The rest ? 'AEIOU' and 'The Animal Song' (the band's first singles) run neatly into each other and sound hard, biting and immaculate, while 'Innocent' (sic) and 'Spirit of Youth' work well as live cuts, dropping many of the studio fripperies that plagued them on the 'Vocabulary' album.
'American People' and 'Falling' sound lack-lustre here, but an excellent version of the slow and emotional 'Going to Work' more than compensates.
A fair well-recorded album then, and at the price a real bargain that's worth investigating. Buy it in preference to 'Vocabulary'.
'Sounds' 4th February 1984
LP Review by Tibet
'This record contains no artificial preservatives, additives or overdubs' says the press release. This record is, in fact, one of those self-praising little ventures which, under the guise of giving their loyal fans a reward from the band (perseverance?), serve merely as a PR exercise of the most cynical (and BORING) kind.
Having got over the shock of the exciting, barrier-smashing album title, one's eyes wander across the rest of the sleeve. It's a cesspit of uncredited quotations saying just how excellent how the Europeans are..."The Europeans...finally gave me the musical climax I had been waiting for all night." or "So hot on the night, you could almost feel the fire slide up your back."
So who was the source of these ecstatic notices ? A fan ? The drummer's mother ? The Manager ? Saatchi & Saatchi ? I would plump for either the Europeans themselves or the Record reviewer of The Guardian.
"But it's the music that's important man." OK, we'll deal with that.
For a start, it may be admirable not to beef up the live sound with overdubs, false clapping and other tricks of the trade; but not when the record sounds as if it has been recorded in a coal-scuttle full of vomit. And the wimpiness of it all: titles like 'AEIOU' I could forgive (It's not the same as the Freez song but it has about the same amount of inspiration) if the Europeans didn't sound like an American adult-orientated rock version of Joy Division with riffs nicked from the Ten Years after museum of Antiquated Guitar Histronics.
I tenderly cling to the theory that the Lord Above sometimes sends records to test us: I can think of no reason why such aggressively tedious music exists in this Torture Garden. If cocktails were songs, they would sound like this. "I'm not getting excited now / It's a boring game" they sing on 'Typical'.
Too true, too true. OD'd on blandness Itself.
NME 4th February 1984
LP Review by Gavin Martin
Mustering the angst-ridden art ache of Midge Ure at his most cringe-worthy, the onanistic axe squeal of Mick Ronson and the intuitive wit and insight of Howard Jones come The Europeans. From a starting point round the bend of rock's rich lavatory they end up in The Sewers of No Return.
Just what this world needs - more callow white boys getting all hysterical with ridiculous poses, rancid riffs and patently hollow emotional flakery. The songs are 15th-hand experience-related opuses like 'Falling' and 'Animal Song' or identikit rock rote rewrites like 'American People' and 'Spirit of Youth' (yes at last a song guaranteed to knock you sideways with its sheer originality of thought and endeavour).
To twist around one of the uncredited quotes on the cover, "The Europeans are a band with no real punch, they could grow to be totally ridiculous if the impact of the music business doesn't knock them out before they mature."
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