Live [Oh Boy 1CD]
Live in London 1971 + 2 tracks live in US 1974. Ex SBD

A startlingly vibrant performance, this BBC broadcast captures Argent just as "Hold Your Head Up" raised them out of the ranks of the proggy also-rans, and into the Top 20 - a stroke of luck that might have derailed the group’s original vision, but which couldn’t have happened to a more deserving band.

All Together Now, the band’s latest album, understandably dominates the proceedings, the percolating mantras of riff and keyboard driving the best moments irresistibly along… turn the opening "Be My Lover," or an impassioned "I Am The Dance Of Ages" up loud enough, and you can almost taste the dry ice. It wasn’t all swirl and solos, of course - "Sweet Mary" rattles along like the best bar-room ballad, while "Tragedy" already sounds like a hit single in the making.

A mercifully brief drum solo preludes "The Fakir," before we hit the closing salvo of "He’s A Dynamo" and, of course, a phenomenal "Hold Your Head Up," all hard riffs, stamping feet and odd soulful vocal interjections from somewhere else on the stage.

The disc closes with two cuts from a 1974 American show, a fairly basic barrelhouse boogie through "Roll My Cares Away," but an inspiringly epic "God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You," a song that (even after all these years) positively refuses to be as creepily smarmy as it ought to be, and which still makes you want to wave a lit cigarette lighter in the air. Which looks pretty daft when you’re sitting in your living room, with just the budgie for company. - Dave Thompson

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September 29, 2006