Picks and Pans Review: Live in Los
If nothing else, Live in Los Angeles proves just how masterful Maze lead singer-songwriter-producer Frankie Beverly is at working a concert audience into a frenzy. Any doubts about this are dispelled just by dropping the needle on the up-tempo Running Away, Joy and Pain, Back in Stride or the pop-soul ballad I Wanna Thank You. On the first three sides of this two-LP set, recorded at L.A.'s Universal Amphitheatre, Beverly alternates banshee-type cries with elongated oohs and aahs to manipulate his audience like a preacher exhorting his congregation. When Frankie shouts, "Get on up and have yourself a good time," it's easy to imagine his fans dancing in the aisles. The obvious drawback in most Maze songs continues to be their aimlessly repetitive riffs. The boys in the rhythm section often get locked into what could be mistaken for a skip on the record. On the other hand you can bop till you flop and never be troubled by sudden shifting beats that make the less agile dancers among us trip over our feet. Frankie introduces four new tunes on the last side. This set includes Freedom (South Africa), which delivers a clear political message with a Caribbean beat. Like most cuts on Live in Los Angeles, the new material would be stronger if a few repetitions had gone on the mixing room floor. (Capitol)
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