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Eddie Jobson - Four Decades Special Concert CD (album) cover


Eddie Jobson


Progressive Electronic

3.13 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Ignore the pallid three-star rating for a moment, and consider instead the unfulfilled potential in the career of Eddie Jobson. In a better organized universe his reputation would stand tall beside Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and any other keyboard god in the Prog Rock pantheon...none of whom, by the way, could boast an equivalent dexterity on a second instrument, in this case the electric violin.

Jobson was a prodigy who tasted success at an absurdly young age, joining Curved Air while still a teenager, and co-founding UK before his 23rd birthday. But despite his extraordinary talents and striking visual cachet (remember the transparent violin?) he never quite blossomed into a genuine celebrity, in part because his best years were spent supporting other bands with more assertive figureheads: Bryan Ferry, Frank Zappa, Ian Anderson et al (UK might have been his ticket to fame, if the group hadn't arrived so late or imploded so fast).

What was left? A solo career that never gained any traction, followed by the dead-end paycheck of TV and film scores, and sporadic live appearances leading toward this belated return to the limelight in Japan, on November 9, 2013. It was billed as a Special Concert, and in retrospect was exactly that: a forty-year career retrospective gathering 27 songs, presented here on two lavishly annotated compact discs (the deluxe package adds a concert Blu-Ray disc, plus a book and t-shirt).

All the music was carefully chosen and played in chronological order, with Disc One devoted to Jobson's primetime '70s collaborations, from Curved Air through Roxy Music and Zappa to UK. The second disc concentrates on later material, less familiar to casual fans but more thrilling in context, and brought to vivid life by a very tight backing band. Further endorsement, and the icing on an already appetizing cake, was provided by guest appearances from Sonja Kristina and John Wetton, both in fine voice after four decades.

The concept, arrangements, set-list, and performances all add up to a coulda-shoulda-woulda-been, once-in-a-blue-moon classic. But the recording itself is terrible, rendering a five-star event with frustrating two-star fidelity (at least on CD; maybe the video disc is an improvement). Have you ever heard music while swimming underwater? That's more or less the effect here: a flat mix, curiously muffled and totally lacking any concert's almost as if some of the microphones went dead on stage without anyone noticing.

For lack of a better scapegoat, let's blame the constraints of a tight budget from a strictly provincial label (Ward Records), which likewise didn't have the resources to market the results outside Japan (I was astonished to discover the CD at my local library in backwoods western New York). With an uncompromised production this would have been an essential experience: a thrilling late-career victory lap by an unsung superstar who never received the acclaim he deserved.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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