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Album Review

Elliott Murphy's second officially released concert album is a first-rate effort, with strong guitar backup by longtime cohort Olivier Durand. Just don't expect much in the way of surprises. Granted, Murphy serves up a couple of new (for him) rock chestnuts — "Gloria" and the Stones' "Wild Horses" — but most of the other songs find him on very familiar turf. The lead-off track, "You Never Know What You're in For," also opened his previous live CD, and three of the other 11 songs were on that disk as well. Moreover, while these are acoustic versions, they vary little from the original arrangements. A few entertaining spoken intros aside, the concert setting doesn't add much. In fact, this sounds more like a live-in-the-studio effort than a concert: Either the audience was very small or very quiet or it's very de-emphasized in the mix. At any rate, you'll barely know it's there. That said, it's hard to imagine a Murphy fan who'd regret adding this one to the shelf. The album, after all, taps some of his best compositions. There are early standouts like "Drive All Night" — Murphy's "Born to Run," more or less — and "Rock Ballad," as well as recent high points such as "Sicily" and "On Elvis Presley's Birthday," a recollection of the singer's father. Note that several European versions of this album are available, and each has a slightly different track lineup. The Spanish edition — the one reviewed here — is the only one to include lyrics (in English and Spanish).

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