Label : “Eye” Records / Purple Underground
Catalogue : #29-30-31-32-33-34
6Disc Length : 74:02 / 79:20 / 75:10 / 78:19 / 76:06 / 58:29
Source : Audience Recordings
Date/Venue : O2 Arena, London 14-18, August 2007
Sound Quality : EX- / EX
Year Of Release : 2007
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.75/5.0)
Overall an excellent release of the 3rd week in London containing 1 full main show, 3 full aftershows and highlights from the remaining 2 main shows of the week - more music than you can possibly handle. Disc 1 and the first 2 tracks of Disc 2 concentrate on the Earth tour show from 18th August, and as good as it is, it's a very routine concert.
Also available on the '...For Your Memories - 21 Nights In London Vol. O9' release, this "Eye" Records recording is certainly the better of the two. Talking of the recording, it's something of a mixed-bag and I'm hesitant to class it as EX- for a few reasons - namely the slightly intrusive audience level during a number of tracks. The audience do add an appreciative atmosphere to the recording, but I can only put up with so much screaming before it begins to get on my tits - that said, for the most part they are in the background, the band are very much to the fore of the recording and Prince is (99& of the time) clear and upfront. Like I say, better than the O2verload recording, but wavering between a VG+ and an EX- rating due to the audience intrusion in places. The main core of the show is fairly straightforward and outside of the extended "sampler set" which contains a number of nice, lengthy choices, and the inclusion of 'Peach - Rock Me, Baby' there's nothing worthy of mention - although the thumping '3121' opening is fantastic.
Disc 2 also includes highlights from the 2 other main shows of the 3rd week (17 minutes from the 17th August show and 19 minutes from the 14th August main show). Praise has to go to the recording of the 17th August show which is phenomenally impressive and the bass solo proceeding 'Black Sweat' rips that bitch apart. Alas the 19 minutes from 14th August recording isn't as stunning as the 17th, but it does include a nice 'Somewhere Here On Earth' (try to zone out the ignorant wankers talking throughout) followed by a beautiful 'Forever In My Life'. Disc 2 closes out with Beverley Knights opening set from the 15th August (am) 3121 aftershow with the Prince set spanning the majority of Discs 3 & 4.
The quality of this recording is sublime and certainly better than the previously circulating version on the O2verload release '...For Your Memories - 21 Nights In London Vol. O7'. If I were to allow myself a few minor criticisms of the recording it would be it is lacking in power slightly, and in a few instances the mics/recording equipment moves, causing some slight wavering of the sound - however these are very, very minor and not in any way detrimental to the recording as a whole. Not the best aftershow of the tour with much emphasis given over to Shelby, however as with all others it has it's moments of brilliance. Without dissecting the aftershow yet again (see 'For Your Memories Vol. O7' for that), mention has to go to the excellent constant groove from 'I Can't Stand Myself' through to the instrumental 'What Is Hip' and climaxing with another excellent 'Stratus' - each better and funkier than the last. Unfortunately the aftershow content contained on Disc 4 really doesn't live up to the excellence of the first half and as good as it is (and it is), Shelby's intrusions begin to tire.
That said, the encore containing an instrumental groove centered around 'Head' is a joy to listen to. I'll quickly gloss over the NPG aftershow featured on the closing 30 minutes of Disc 4 and the majority of Disc 5 as Prince is not present for the show, leaving the NPG (and the support act Mya on the last few tracks) to entertain on his behalf. Nice EX- recording, bland content. Moving on. Following on from the NPG aftershow on Disc 5 we have the opening 30 minutes of Prince's 19th August (am) 3121 aftershow and it's certainly the best aftershow contained on this particular release both in terms of sound quality and show content. Also circulating on the BLR & Miles release 'Learn 2 Work The Toilet Seat', the O2verload release '...For Your Memories - 21 Nights In London Vol. O9', and the Sabotage release 'The Indigo Chronicles Chapter 3' I'd say this is better than the BLR & Miles release, but lacks the clarity of both the O2verload and Sabotage releases - making this the 3rd best of the 4 currently (as of January 2008) circulating recordings of the show. That's not to detract from the recording, as it's an impressive effort with an audible, but not obtrusive, audience level and the show is very much to the fore. Saying that, the audience level is what makes this the 2nd best recording from this show and particularly during the early stage of the show they do overpower the recording in places - minimal, but worth commenting on. That aside, there's really nothing else working against this and it is rather sexy indeed.
The recording is matched in excellence by the show content which has Prince at the keyboard for the opening 4 tracks. Disc 6 begins with the only performance of 'The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker' during the London stay, and whilst the crowd take over vocals for a large portion, it's always a welcome addition to the set. Bill Withers 'Use Me' (again, something of a rarity) segues seamlessly into an 11 minute 'Stratus' and is followed by a very lengthy 'Satisfied - The Rules' - again, it's at this point that the laughter and interaction from the crowd is at it's highest. The show then follows a familiar path with Shelby taking over for 'Love Changes' and 'Baby Love' before the show is brought to an end with 'Thank You' featuring a fair amount of call-and-response with the crowd to end.
Overall this is an excellent re-cap of Week #3 in London and the source recordings used are of a very high standard with any complaints/critique being minimal and slightly harsh. Not all the recordings here are the best circulating, but as "highlights" set, and a document of the shows, this is an impressive release. Packaging-wise, the 14 page booklet contains detailed tracklistings of each show, 3121.com "Spy Reports" and a decent selection of pictures all working around the 3121.com theme. A highly enjoyable, high standard release.