Picks and Pans Review: Knebworth: the Album

updated 09/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Various Artists

You listened to the same-day radio transmission. You watched MTV's edited broadcast. Do you really want to buy the double album?

This summer's benefit festival in Britain got more than a little carried away with its own stature: "the concert of the century"? Dream on. But then Knebworth needed a hard sell because what it amounted to was merely a good turnout from rock's senior tour: Eric Clapton. Phil Collins, Elton John. Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page et al.

Musically it boils down to a tepid collection of greatest hits, largely lacking in surprises. At least Robert Plant and Pink Floyd kick up a ruckus, and Genesis strings together a seemingly endless medley reprising almost even' hit of recent memory except "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter."

Other acts don't fare nearly that well. Without their studio varnish, Tears for Fears' vocal inadequacies are glaringly apparent. And their jam on "Badman's Song" seems to go on for as long as it took them to put out their most recent album—in other words, forever. Clapton is also guilty of killing time. His 11-minute rendition of "Sunshine of Your Love" recalls the profligately indulgent, drug-hazed days of Cream. Shades of the '60s: It even has an extended drum solo.

The Nordoff-Robbin Music Therapy Centre in London got a chunk of money in return for the recording rights, which is all well and good, but Knebworth, the album, could have stood some considerable pruning for consumption on this side of the Atlantic. (No Status Quo or Cliff Richard for us, please. We're American.) The two-album set is marked by unusual clarity for a live recording, but then again, there's not all that much worth preserving so faithfully. When it comes to Knebworth, maybe you had to be there. (Polydor)

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