Here’s one that I own almost purely for the cover art alone and you can see why, surely?
I was a big Orb fan circa ’93, U.F.Orb is a Top 15 LP for me easily, but I never bothered going to see them play live. Partly because I didn’t really see what they would/could/should add to their immaculately crafted studio tracks in the live arena and partly because I had absolutely no intention of spending 3+ hours of my life locked in a big room full of gonked out zonkonauts all of whom were off their collective tits on space drugs, it just didn’t appeal to me. The Orb always had an excellent live reputation too, so it possibly wasn’t too big a surprise when they released Live 93 spread across 4 lovely albums.
I was skint when Live 93 came out and found it second hand about a year later, bought it, listened to it maybe once and then, being skint again, sold it back to the same shop for a loss a few months further on. You see, much as I loved the Orb and the cover art, the music wasn’t a patch on the studio cuts – it was rougher and less perfect and much as they are qualities that thrill in a more traditional band, that wasn’t what I wanted from my favourite ambient dub dance combo. The completist in me missed the LP though and so I bought it again in 2012, just before 90’s vinyl really soared in price.
So how do I feel about Live 93 today? well, I’ve sat down and listened to all 8 sides of the album again over the last day and I was right enough first time around. The two best tracks are taken from a live-in-the-studio situation and do add one or two interesting things to the mix, especially in the case of ‘Assassin’. As for the rest, if you’re a big enough Orb anorak you can entertain yourself to a point, spotting additional samples woven into the beats, or different beats being dropped into the mix here and there but it is a bit of an esoteric sport.
It may be a bit of a sodding obvious thing to say a 4 LP live album is for mega fans only, but Live 93 is. For fans of the Orb and toy sheep that is.
About that cover: The Orb always did have a bit of a Pink Floyd obsession going on, Battersea power station featured in the cover art for their debut LP and the subsequent remix album, I have a joint interview with them and Dave Gilmour and they did go on to make the Metallic Spheres LP with him in 2010. Anyway, any fool can muck about with the cover to Animals can’t they?
PS: Evil Bro 39? accidental back to front thing, or coded Hitler warning – who knows? although by 1993 I think I can safely say that most people were aware of Hitler’s plan to conquer Europe.