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The Durutti Column Live In Bruxelles 13.8.1981 (Live)

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Album Review

Part of LTM's early-2008 reissue series of a slew of Durutti Column releases that had originally appeared on Crepuscule, Live in Bruxelles was the sole "new" release, though as the title indicates it's actually an archival tape seeing official light for the first time. Taken from a radio soundboard recording done for broadcast, the set is a mix of tracks from The Return of the Durutti Column, the then-unreleased LC, and various singles and one-offs, including the highly obscure, somewhat unsettling physicality-of-romance portrait "Stains (Useless Body)." Compared to the almost preternaturally clean atmospheres of the studio recordings at the time, Live in Bruxelles is rougher around the edges, not just simply because of the recording quality (fair but not pristine) and the mix, which often foregrounds Bruce Mitchell's drums. It's hearing those drums that gives the disc part of its impact, though — having just recently begun to work with Vini Reilly, you get a sense that he's still testing out the feeling of the partnership to the full, and moments like the breakdown toward the end of "Sketch for Dawn" and the various mini-solos throughout "Jacqueline" show both what a remarkable drummer he is and how well he slotted in with Reilly's own muse. Reilly himself shines as expected; while his singing is much more direct and sharp given the mix, as can especially be heard on a stellar take on "The Missing Boy," as ever it's still a voice notable more for absence rather than presence, translating most of his feelings into his trademark fluid guitar runs and deceptively calm melodies. (There's one notable exception to this via some crazy soloing on "Self Portrait," which almost comes out of nowhere.) An enjoyable bonus appears at the end with the inclusion of an interview done just after the performance, where Reilly thoughtfully answers various, if sometimes muffled, questions about his work, including some thoughts on the balance between experimentalism and accessibility he found himself aiming for (which in many ways remains true through the present day), as well as a calmly stated but fierce denunciation of the venue's PA system he's just performed with.

Biography

Formed: 1978 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Durutti Column was primarily the vehicle of Vini Reilly, a guitarist born in Manchester, England, in 1953. As a child, Reilly first took up the piano, drawing inspiration from greats like Art Tatum and Fats Waller, before learning to play guitar at the age of ten. Despite an early affection for folk and jazz, Reilly ultimately became swept up by the punk movement, and in 1977 he joined the group Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds. In 1978, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson invited Reilly to join a...
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