Album Review: @DaveKerzner — Paranoia EP and New World Live LP ★★★★★

Dave Kerzner continues to amaze. His new Paranoia EP starts off with two new tracks. Don’t underestimate these. The more you listen to them, the more they take hold of you. Dave is an underrated songwriter. This EP proves it. These first two tracks are incredibly finely crafted songs, but unlike most prog they do not draw your attention to that fact. Instead, they are subtle, and your appreciation of them will only grow. Absolutely stellar tracks, they leave me wanting more. I can’t wait for Dave’s next full album.

Also on the EP are two live tracks that are taken from the extended 2015 Deluxe Edition of New World. “Secret” was never a favorite of mine, but here in this live version the song is much enhanced. It works so much better live, and Dave even drops an F-bomb to liven up the saccharine Barry Manilow vibe that I always thought ruined the song. Well, I understand the track much better now. The sappy atmosphere is actually meant to be totally ironic. Listen to the lyrics, and you’ll get it. I now love this song. I guess it needed to be abstracted from the two-hours-plus version of New World in order for me to finally appreciate it. Well, I really love it now.

As for “Recurring Dream,” I always really, really liked the song. The way it starts is so cool, and the whole harmonious structure is so beautiful, graced with one of Dave’s very best melodies. I can understand why it seems to be being played as an encore here. Bravo! This is a rock solid EP, and a real gift to the fans.

As for the live full-LP version of New World, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. Instead, I was blown away. I cannot believe how good this live album sounds. Dave has taken care to imbue it with such quality audio, it is not even like listening to a usual live album. While New World impressed in no small part because of its Pink Floyd-like studio wizardry, this album is like listening to that whole amazing album played in one long take, live inside the studio. It’s absolutely incredible.

The songs acquire a different energy played live, such that even my lesser-liked songs on the 2014 album reveal new dimensions live. For example, “Under Control” is mechanically oppressive in the studio version, as is no doubt thematically appropriate for the production values. But played live, it acquires a lightness and spontaneity that makes it so much more enjoyable. Instead of waiting for the track to be over so I can hear “Crossing of Fates,” as with the original album, instead I now revel in “Under Control” for its own sake.

My only complaint with this live version is that when the Van Halen “Jump” 80s-style keyboard comes in after the guitar solo in “The Lie,” that keyboard line is mixed way in the background, instead of up front in the mix. It’s one of my favorite moments on the original album, so I am surprised at the oversight here. Maybe it is meant to feature the awesome guitar solo more, I dunno. Oh well, at least all those cool keyboard lines in “Stranded” and “Redemption” are mixed to perfection. Salvation found!

The musicians playing live on this album are all incredibly talented and you will be stunned at the audio quality. Dave’s own voice and stamina is a revelation on this live album. He is an even bigger talent than people realize. This live album proves the point.

I am amazed at how good the drum sounds are here for a live album, how good the guitar sounds are here for a live album, and… well, you get the idea. Best of all, Dave is a true keyboard aficionado and so he delivers on the keyboard sounds too. Crotchety old Tony Banks has to be giving a thumbs up whenever he hears this album.

This whole concert is a milestone in prog history, so be sure to get a copy of it. After all, New World in its original 2014 standard release is one of the greatest prog epics ever, and this album (which follows that original track list) definitively proves it, if you had any doubts.

Myself, I prefer the standard 2014 version with a running time that fits on one CD, like this concert. It is just the right size to be enjoyed in leisure time, or on both legs of a day’s commute. The “Director’s Cut” of the Deluxe Edition included a lot of extra cool material, and blew our minds by showing how talented Dave’s imagination is, but I think it is really for true fans and completists only, since nobody with family or regular employment can listen to it all in one sitting. Too many notes, Mozart.

The standard, one-CD version of New World is the gold-standard version that Dave will always be remembered for. And this incredible live presentation of that prog epic… well, it has absolutely and forever catapulted Dave Kerzner into the prog pantheon.

Thoughts?

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