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Europe - Almost Unplugged (CD)

Europe
Almost Unplugged
by Grigoris Chronis at 26 October 2008, 12:18 PM

Eventually, this album has the potential to be a good companion for one hour and something more than a quarter. Possibly a full-electric motion of the above setlist may have not managed it the same but - due to the synthesis of the 'acoustics' mode - it's mild moments that can pass by easily enough to such sounds; especially if the tracklist is quite intriguing, too. This is not a normal studio album by EUROPE, as you can tell from the CD's title.
Almost Unplugged was recorded in Stockholm in late January 2008 and was broadcasted via the Swedish multi-platinum band's website, too. Will it be released on DVD soon enough? Who knows. On a first basis, Almost Unplugged steps in to fill in the gap. The famous Scandinavian melodic Hard Rock quintet is supported by a string quartet and performs some songs off their own discography plus a pleasant set of covers from Rock classics. It seems EUROPE still pulls the strings in their home country, since Almost Unplugged achieved climbing high enough in the Swedish charts in its first-couple-of-weeks release.
The first three songs show a more serene approach of the originals featured in the band's duo of last studio releases, Start From The Dark (2004) and Secret Society (2006). PINK FLOYD's Wish You Were Here will always send shivers down our spine, but with the surprising appearance of the 1984 diamond classic Dreamer it's time for the first high-pitched reaction from the crowd, too; a great take, eventually, with astonishing & mature vocals by Joey Tempest. U.F.O.'s Love To Love is a song you gotta have balls to deal with. Even if the band's take is careful, no great mood did I find myself coming to, apart from the sweet addition of strings (and John Norum's expressive piece).
The arrangement on The Final Countdown is controversial, huh. Yeap, it would surely be. A sing-along slow-pace rock/celtic piece with the famous lead part played by a violin…well, you should definitely listen to this one (see YouTube video below). Old-school 'hard' rockers will instantly recognize a partial reference to one of EUROPE's beloved bands.
Yesterday's News would not wake any rapid sentiment but Hero (written for the legendary Phil Lynott, whom Tempest had once met and now lyrically honors) did shake and tumble enough; the same applies to Memories, of course (off their 1983 debut), where EUROPE delivers a dreaming rendition of this obscure cut from their early days. The remaining duo of covers (from LED ZEPPELIN and THIN LIZZY) marks a specific blend of tribute to their idols (Since… sees a g-r-e-a-t approach by all five members; also, I guess the ladies' screams are not for the supremacy of the intermezzo part in Suicide but for John Norum's foreground playing), whilst two familiar 'hits' wrap up the concert and set the venue on fire. Joey grabs the chance to interact with the crowd during Superstitious) and the whole club sings along to Rock The Night's refrain.
The sound is really crystal clear and the performance of the band-with-orchestra is vast; you'll have no doubt. That leaves the simple choice regarding the EUROPE 'brand' and your opinion on unplugged albums. If keen, then…yes. Else, you can live without it for sure, even if it - again said - Almost Unplugged can act as a good buddy for almost 70 minutes.

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Tracklist:
Got To Have Faith
Forever Travelling
Devil Sings The Blues
Wish You Were Here
Dreamer
Love To Love
The Final Countdown
Yesterday's News
Since I've Been Lovin' You
Hero
Suicide
Memories
Superstitious
Rock The Night
Lineup:
Joey Tempest - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
John Norum - Electric & Acoustic Guitars
John Leven - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Mic Michaeli - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Ian Haugland - Drums, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Hell & Back
     


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