Friday, August 17, 2018

Live at the Troubadour (2018), by Michael Nesmith and The First National Band Redux

Live at the Troubadour is Michael Nesmith's third live album in the last 26 years, and it is every bit as lively and engaging as its predecessors.

All three concert recordings are equally excellent without being redundant, especially considering the fact that each one focuses on a different aspect of Nesmith's career: Live at the Britt Festival (1992) concentrates primarily on the albums And the Hits Just Keep on Comin' (1972) and Tropical Campfires (1992); Movies of the Mind (2013) is a wide-ranging retrospective; and Live at the Troubadour revisits Nesmith's First National Band trilogy from the early 1970s.

Since some of the original First National Band members are no longer with us, The First National Band Redux consists of a whole new group of backup musicians, including Nesmith's sons Jonathan and Christian on guitars and backing vocals.

For some qualitative comparative analysis, here's a breakdown of which of the three albums features the best live versions of common, overlapping songs:

Britt – “Papa Gene's Blues”
Movies – “Propinquity,” “Tomorrow and Me,” “Different Drum”
Troubadour – “Joanne,” “Some of Shelly's Blues,” “Silver Moon”

Live at the Troubadour showcases Nesmith in top musical form. It's both a joy and a thrill to hear the legendary 75-year-old icon still plucking away at his 12-string acoustic guitar with sprightly aplomb and giving it his all as a singer.

--Raj Manoharan

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