Tangerine Dream: 220 Volt Live (1993)

The forecast is hot, hazy and humid: hot guitar solos from Zlatko Perica, hazy borders between songs and the humid atmosphere that you’d expect from New Age (even caffeinated New Age like this). 220 Volt Live is the audio cousin to the concert video Three Phase, which documented TD’s 1992 North American tour. As with most of their live albums, the songs on 220 Volt Live are new compositions (“Oriental Haze” had appeared earlier on the Rockoon single). Rather than stop between songs, TD lets them flow into one another, a synergy of sound that creates two large tone poems on each side of the cassette (although “Treasure of Innocence” is abruptly tacked on to side one to balance things out). Critiquing this without seeing Three Phase is like reviewing a film with your hands cupped over your ears, so bear in mind that this applies only to the audio portion of the event. But 220 Volt Live isn’t a must-own listening experience, despite some fine moments. Perica and Linda Spa (sax/keyboards) add spice to Tangerine Dream even as the Froeses putter along on auto-cruise. Perhaps it’s the prolific nature of their genius at work against them. I can afford to pick and choose from so many things in the TD garden, and both Turn of the Tides and Goblins’ Club seem riper and sweeter works to me. If you’ve already purchased these, digested them, and crave something more from the same period, then by all means plug into 220 Volt Live. It’s not as thorny as those works, remembering for the moment that they had a large audience to please, but it’s no bunch of wilted posies either. There are some dark turns that recall their earlier work, plenty of mind-candy moments strewn along the way, invigorating rhythms and inspiring melodies. However, it’s not the best introduction to this period, vanilla to Tournado’s rocky road, though in both cases the production is so clean as to render the live tag moot. And, yes, that’s a version of Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze” at the end, which is a real showstopper.

The Songs
1. Oriental Haze (6:52)
2. Two Bunch Palms (5:48)
3. 220 Volt (9:01)
4. Homeless (9:48)
5. Treasure of Innocence (3:41)*
6. Sundance Kid (8:04)
7. Backstreet Hero (8:49)
8. The Blue Bridge (4:47)
9. Hamlet (8:30)
10. Dreamtime (3:46)
11. Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix) (3:32)

All music and sounds composed by Edgar and Jerome Froese unless noted.

* Appears as the last track (#11) on compact disc.

The Players
Edgar Froese (keyboards & guitar), Jerome Froese (keyboards & guitar), Zlatko Perica (guitar), Linda Spa (saxophone & keyboards). Produced by Edgar Froese; engineered by Ed Jefro.

The Pictures
Photography by Monika Froese, Jim Rakete, Ralph Strathmann, Carl Weatherly.

The Plastic
Released on compact disc and cassette in October 1993 in the US (Miramar, MPCD/MPC 2804). Re-released on compact disc in September 1999 worldwide (TDI, EFACD 63018) with different cover. Re-issued on digipak compact disc in 2009 in Germany (Eastwest/Membran, 232650).

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