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Great collection of early songs - live! - 90%

Thiestru, June 12th, 2010

So a year after releasing their greatest album ('Somewhere Far Beyond'), Blind Guardian releases a live album featuring songs from every album they'd released until that point in time. Count me in!

First, I have to comment on the production. It's easily one of the best-sounding live albums I've ever heard. Every note is crystal clear. The balance is spot-on. It captures the energy of a live setting without the poor sound that usually accompanies it. Really, really excellent.

Now, the setlist.... No, it's not perfect, at least not for me. Only one song from 'Battalions of Fear'? That's really a shame, because I'd love to hear 'The Martyr' and the title track from that album. (I would say 'Run for the Night' too, but they already saw to that on the bonus track for 'Tales from the Twilight World'.) It's very hard to complain about the choices from 'Follow the Blind', since they played the two best songs from it. 'Damned for All Time' would have been nice, though. For the third album, 'The Last Candle' would have completely ruled. They made up for this later, at least. And finally, as another reviewer said, where the hell is 'Somewhere Far Beyond'? As far as I'm concerned, that's the best song they ever wrote and ever will write, and it was THE epic from the album they were touring for here, so it's really crappy they didn't play it.

Oh well. Now for the songs they DID play: they nail them. Flawlessly. For a band that shows so much technical ability on their studio albums, it's natural to wonder if they can pull it off life. Wonder no more. And not only that, but the spirit of the studio recordings is not only maintained but enhanced; the guys sound like they were really having a great time playing these songs.

Whether you're already a Blind Guardian fan or are just thinking about checking them out, this album is essential. Even though the 'Live' album covers many more songs, I always find myself coming back to this one. (Although that's partly because my 'Live' CDs are scratched all to hell.) 'Tokyo Tales' shows a band just reaching their peak; and because it's from relatively early in their career, you can hear them doing songs that tend to get neglected these days. Fantastic stuff.