Label : “Eye” Records
Catalogue : #91-92-93
3Disc Length : 87:35 / 89:28 / 88:29
Source : Audience Recordings
Date/Venue : Nokia Theatre, LA: 28th March 2009
Sound Quality : VG / VG+
Year Of Release : 2009
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.0/5.0)
Disc 1 features the first of 3 gigs to kick-off the nights proceedings, and anyone who read the reviews of the show will know the concert was marred with sound issues. To a certain degree, a bootleg recording is only as good as the sound system at the venue, so unfortunately the problems with sound at the venue are evident here, and at times Prince is almost impossible to hear due to the microphone problems. His mic suffers all sorts of issues with crackling, distortion and volume fluctuations which are really the major complaint here, and almost ruins what could have been a decent enough recording/show. His guitar level is also very muted, and fierce solo's simply blend into the background with merely a whimper.
Take aside the crackling, booming sound system and you don't have a bad recording, with no serious interference from the audience, however the sound issues of the venue really ruin what should have been decent enough. As it is, if you can enjoy the timid, thin, flat recording, and the metallic crackling of Prince's mic, the show opens with 'Ol' Skool Company' before moving into a slightly extended 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' (think 1998 European tour with Prince calling out "2009" instead of "2001") followed by 'Crimson And Clover' - a perfect example of the guitar solo's simply fading into the background when they could have been ferocious. An ode to the Hollywood setting comes in the form of 'Hollywood Swinging' which has some call-and-response with the crowd, followed by an instrumental 'Little Wing' interlude showcasing Yonnet on harmonica.
The remainder of the show is pretty unsurprising except for the guest appearance by Sheila E to close the show. Overall the sound issues plague the recording, and for me, completely ruin what could have been great. The fault lies with the venue, and not "Eye" Records, so it's no slight on this release, but it's frustrating. 'The Glamorous Life' also appears to suffer a serious glitch with a few seconds of silence before the song skips/jumps, however anyone making it that far into the recording deserves a prize.
Disc 2 contains the phenomenal New Power Trio 2nd show of the night which was previously available on the Akashic Records release 'LA3 : The Conga Room'. This "Eye" Records version appears to be a matrix-mix of at least 2 (possibly 3) different recordings, one of which certainly is the Akashic Records release buried deep in there somewhere. The recording never quite reaches the status of excellent, but it's certainly a good enough VG+, and the audio is overall better than the previous version with less flaws and movement. Not without it's problems, the recording is very, very heavy and it's this reason alone I can't give it an excellent rating of any sort. The heavyness aside, it certainly has more bite and life than the Akashic version, making the show far more enjoyable than before (if that's at all possible). Stunning show which I've covered on the other release and shan't bore anyone with again, suffice to say it's a thing of great beauty and the undoubted highlight of 2009 thus far.
Disc 2 also features the 3 Leno appearances on tracks #16-18 with the audio taken from the broadcasts. Tracks #19-21 are audience recordings of the complete outdoor performance with the complete 'Feel Better' and two bonus tracks played after the cameras stopped rolling. The recording is again rather heavy for my tastes, but the audience level is low and the show is very loud and clear - impressively so. Disc 3 is the best of the entire set in terms of quality and the recording easily grades as EX with barely a whimper audible from the crowd for large sections of the show. Already circulating on the Akashic Records release 'LA3 : Club Nokia', which is pitiful in comparison to this, not to mention incomplete. Understandably the show is not to everyone's tastes with Renato getting star-billing alongside Prince and indulging in one too many meandering extended solo's, however I find with the improved quality of the recording comes a new affection for the show. The set-list is one of the most unique you'll hear, beginning (rather bizarrely) with a portion of dialogue lifted from the Under The Cherry Moon film before the band move into an instrumental take on 'Under The Cherry Moon' followed by an instrumental 'Dreamin' About U'. Prince takes centre stage for an excellent, hypnotic 'When Eye Lay My Hands On U' before moving into 'Journey 2 The Center Of Your Heart' with one of the best vocal deliveries in a long time. On through a rare 'The Sun, The Moon And Stars' (complete with a too extended Renato solo), the pinnacle of the show is the performance of 'Life Is Like Looking For A Penny In A Large Room With No Light'. Chaka Khan guests for 'Sweet thing' and the remainder of the show is predictable, but enjoyable.
The packaging comes with a thick, heavy, very glossy 18 page booklet which follows in the LotusFlow3r.com theme of being a new galaxy of funk with purple clouds and cum-meteors. It contains more detailed tracklistings of the shows along with reports and pictures, but nothing particularly new or overly interesting.
Overall I can see what "Eye" were trying to achieve with this release - a landmark, sought after document of Prince's 3 shows in one night in 3 venues with 3 bands, however it slightly falls flat as only one of the shows is of excellent quality (Disc 3) - the remainder is VG+ at best and the sound issues on Disc 1 in particular make it hard work to listen to. Discs 2 and 3 are very good, Disc 1.....less so. My overall feeling is that even with it's flaws, problems and sound issues, this is still a decent enough release to warrant checking out, and as (so far) Eye are the only people who have put out the trilogy of shows, all complete, with bonus material, I'm really not in a position to slam it too hard.