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The Association Live

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Album Review

This 75-minute album, originally a double-LP (recorded live at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on April 3, 1970) is a valiant attempt at capturing the Association's concert sound on record. Unfortunately, it fails for several reasons, beginning with the fact that the instrumental mix is very bass-heavy — even with adjustments to compensate, this overwhelms much of the rest of the band on several key numbers. Additionally, the group's singing, though more than adequate, lacks the presence needed to give their harmonies the necessary radiance to make the music fully attractive, coming off instead as anemic. The real problem is that cutting a live album was a thankless task for this group — so much of their sound was dependent on a studio-driven perfection — that live recording was an exercise in futility (let's put it this way — the Beach Boys pulled this off more than once, but they had a resident genius around part of the time doing their arrangements; the Association: no genius in the ranks). "Goodbye Columbus" is a case in point, it's a breezy, cheerful number that gets a spirited performance, but it still sounds thin and emaciated because the single is the way that song is supposed to sound, period. By contrast, their rendition of "Get Together," complete with lyrical and soaring harmonies, is a masterpiece of a kind — or it would be if it were a prelude to a studio recording where the balances could be refined and perfected. As it is, the band often sound clunky on their instruments, even as they sing their hearts out. "Seven Man Band" features some ferocious fuzz guitar that gets buried in mix. Some songs do work — "Cherish" is a bit emaciated but ultimately makes for interesting listening, while "Requiem for the Masses" and "Enter the Young" come off well on any terms. It's hardly worth the inflated price of the Japanese imported CD, except for the most hardcore completists.

Biography

Formed: 1965 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Association was one of the more underrated groups to come out of the mid- to late '60s. Creators of an enviable string of hits from 1966 through 1969, they got caught in a shift in popular culture and the unwritten criteria for significance in that field and never recovered. The group's smooth harmonies and pop-oriented sound (which occasionally moved into psychedelia and, much more rarely, into a harder, almost garage-punk vein) made them regular occupants of the highest reaches of the pop charts...
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The Association Live, The Association
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