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HippyDave
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PostSubject: Still Beautiful   Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:50 pm

Hmmmm.

I was really looking forward to picking this up (well, I still am), but I will admit to being a tad disappointed on two scores:

1) The price. 15 quid? Plus postage, in fact, making it 17 quid... Normally I'm the first to jump to the defence of the cost of albums in these days of DIY and band-run labels, but that seems a bit steep to me for a live album. Admittedly, my opinion may be coloured somewhat by the fact that 17 quid is what I've just laid out for the deluxe CD & DVD edition of the new Magenta studio album, but it seems a bit excessive to me. I know there is precedent here, with reference to the 'limited' editions of past studio albums, but those weren't live releases comprised of previously released material. I can understand the band wanting to recoup as much money as possible from a comparatively small fanbase (and any live album released by any band is aimed, first and foremost, at the existing fanbase), but it seems to me they'd be likely to sell more copies if they had priced it more reasonably. I was all set to order this the second the link went live, being particularly keen to hear the new Livvy-fronted line-up at work, but at 17 quid it's going to have to wait a while, I'm afraid.

2) The set list. Yeah, I know, it was recorded at one show so the band didn't have the luxury of cherry-picking different tracks from other shows (and in fairness I prefer the 'one album, one show' approach, rather than these rather impersonal live compilation albums), but it's a tad disappointing to see so many of the 'usual suspects' on disc 2. Still, good to see a good chunk of the new material spread over the two discs (8 songs!) even if one of them is Something Better - and better yet, Ice is present and correct, and there are a few older favourites that haven't been released on every live album the band have ever released, such as the fab Last Climb, First Thought and the eternally superb Questioning Eyes. Of course, since this is the first live release featuring Livvy on lead vocals there's some attraction in hearing the hoary old warhorses being sung again, but after this release, surely there's no justifying Yet Another Release featuring Heroes or Evergreen? Even Answer The Question is in danger of outstaying its welcome now, and that used to be a big personal favourite.

Any thoughts/reviews? Smile


Last edited by HippyDave on Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:56 am

Well Dave, my reslove is weaker than yours!
Partly because I saw MA at HV & fell back in love with them and because I didnt buy the Concert Live disc at HV, I took the plunge, even at fifteen quid!

The album sounds great (as you would expect ). Ice & Questioning Eyes are particularly good on this album.

The packaging is awful. The title of the album becomes apparent upon opening the case. Its dedicated to Bryans uncle, Brian Smith, who passed away the day after the album was taped. The booklet is really poor with no info about where it was recorded (Bury) at all.

It is released through Nova and I waited for the one night..album & picked it up for 8.99 from Play.com. So you may find it cheaper in time.

Its a great live album, that looks like a bootleg! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:26 am

Just listened to disk one - whatever you say about the packaging, the music itself just blows you away. It really captures what being at one of the gigs on the spring tour was like, and shows what a magnificent singer Livvy has become.

Would love to know the reasoning behind the running order, though. I think it's the full set from the spring tour, but bears no relationship to the order they played them on tour - for example, Distant Train was the opener, and Forever Young and Heroes the encores.

correction Fading Colours is missing - this opened the second set. No idea why they left that one off.


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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:06 pm

And just for completeness' sake, these are songs played last year which weren't in this year's set, and weren't on either Live 2009 or That Night in Leamington.

New songs: Violet Skies, Back to Life, Sound of the World, Anything at All.
Oldies: Out of the Green Sky, Storms Over Still Waters, Dreaming
Non-MA songs: Slow Down (Josh & Co), Rain Song (old song of Livvy's that was a regular in the Breathing Space set)

Have I missed anything?
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:55 am

Hi all. I've posted on the main MA thread that i'm not happy with having to fork out £17.00 (inc postage) for this item.
Personally, having followed MA for over a decade, I will continue buying MA merchandise and products as i'm unashamedly a fan. The price though is over the top and in the current very competitive market you would expect a much superior overall product than what we have been presented with here.
As always the performance is excellent and although there are quite a few older tracks the fact that Olivia is performing them adds a new twist. So i've no actual complaint about the content.
The packaging however is a disgrace - very little imagination has gone into the design. Just some pictures of band members with their names underneath and that's it. Very poor for the price.
I know MA have to make a living out of all this but the casual fan is unlikely to want to pay out this much for a live album in shoddy packaging.
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:33 am

PXR5 wrote:
Hi all. I've posted on the main MA thread that i'm not happy with having to fork out £17.00 (inc postage) for this item. Personally, having followed MA for over a decade, I will continue buying MA merchandise and products as i'm unashamedly a fan. The price though is over the top and in the current very competitive market you would expect a much superior overall product than what we have been presented with here. [...] I know MA have to make a living out of all this but the casual fan is unlikely to want to pay out this much for a live album in shoddy packaging.

Well, quite - well said, that's exactly what I was getting at. It puzzles me that the band take so much care with the music/content these days, and yet the presentation of so many of MA's new releases is so lacking. They've had some great artwork in the past, but this really does feel a bit like everyone shrugged and said, "Eh, I guess that looks OK. Look, let's just put it out, yeah?" Not that an album cover featuring someone as photogenic as Livvy is [ibad[/i], just that it looks/feels like it was thrown together very quickly. I am at least glad to hear that the music itself sounds great - so I think I'll follow Mezza's advice and wait until I can pick the album up for a slightly more reasonable price.

As far as the price goes... I don't begrudge any band 'going it alone' from making the maximum amount of money from their output if it keeps them recording and touring... but perhaps someone needs to explain why charging a little less often results in more sales. The only conclusion I can come to is that the band are happier with making the maximum amount possible from the existing fans than they are with attempting to broaden their audience.
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Kalyr
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:55 am

Review on my website:
http://www.kalyr.com/weblog/2011/08/16/mostly-autumn-still-beautiful/

One minor quibble I have is the omission of two songs from the set, "Fading Colours" and "Spirit of Autumn Past". Yes, they've both appeared on live albums before, but both are worth including; the first is a great showcase for Livvy's voice, and the second has the extended improvised into from Liam, which has evolved and developed since the version recorded at Leamington.

Is 15 quid really that much for a double album?

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HippyDave
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:04 pm

Kalyr wrote:
One minor quibble I have is the omission of two songs from the set, "Fading Colours" and "Spirit of Autumn Past". Yes, they've both appeared on live albums before, but both are worth including; the first is a great showcase for Livvy's voice, and the second has the extended improvised into from Liam, which has evolved and developed since the version recorded at Leamington.

Yes - these omissions make no sense to me, either, given the presence of Heroes and Evergreen. I'm guessing that the running time of the two CDs would allow them to be included? All I can think of is that perhaps the band just weren't happy with the versions of those two songs that were recorded, so decided to leave them off. All that said, I can't really work myself up into a lather about it, since neither track is a particular favourite of mine.

Kalyr wrote:
Is 15 quid really that much for a double album?

I wouldn't think twice about paying £15 for a studio album (especially not if it was a double!), but IMO £15 is steep for a live album, even a double. I can't think of any band this side of Pink Floyd whose latest live offering I'd be happy to pay £15 for. Granted, my opinion may be coloured by the fact that many bands see their live releases as souvenirs or loss leaders and price them accordingly, but I actually can't remember the last time I spent over £12 on a live audio recording by anybody (I have spent £15 on a DVD, many times in fact, but that's another animal altogether). The poor presentation of Still Beautiful doesn't do anything to improve my opinion of its price point Wink.
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:59 pm

I haven't bought it because I felt £17 was a rip-off, considering how many live albums there have been and the poor quality of the packaging - it looked like the cover was whacked together on Photoshop in two minutes (wow, I've never even been close to that scathing about anything to do with Mostly Autumn!). Is it any coincidence that the first post-Heather release looked so poor? She is a very talented artist afterall. It's scary but if I start to add it up I've probably spent near to £1000 on Mostly Autumn. A lot of pleasure has come my way as a result and perhaps £100 a year doesn't sound as bad, but I do feel slightly ripped off when I pay £20+ for a limited edition considering what other favourites of mine do and charge...

British Sea Power are another favourite - who similarly to Mostly Autumn, have a limited but dedicated fanbase, tour often and struggle to make a living from music (I'd guess MA are more well off!). Over the last few years they've released EPs between albums, ranging from brand new material, to live recordings and remixes. The cost of each - £5 (two of the last four EPs have had eight songs). The quality of the music has been amongst their best and that's value for money. They're also quite innovative with their merchandise and whenever they release new t-shirt designs I hope I don't like them (I have around 20 already).

For an act like Mostly Autumn it probably wouldn't do any harm to price a live album like this as a loss-leader to get people interested in the band.

Saying all that, I was speaking to Heather at the Café 68 gig and she was finding everything that comes with a solo artist (promotion etc.) very difficult, especially due to time constraints, so perhaps it's better Bryan and co. concentrate on the music...then again, saying that - unless they have a lucky break or know the right people, I think most bands have to be more than just songwriters and musicians to be successful these days. It's easier than ever to record music at low cost and so even more difficult to stand out amongst the saturation. You need to do something original or unusual to promote your music and open it up to a wider audience.
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:45 pm

Interestingly, I saw it on sale in HMV for £10.99. It even made it to the "We Recommend" rack. The accompanying text was the first paragraph of my review!
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Quote :
Saying all that, I was speaking to Heather at the Café 68 gig and she was finding everything that comes with a solo artist (promotion etc.) very difficult, especially due to time constraints, so perhaps it's better Bryan and co. concentrate on the music...then again, saying that - unless they have a lucky break or know the right people, I think most bands have to be more than just songwriters and musicians to be successful these days. It's easier than ever to record music at low cost and so even more difficult to stand out amongst the saturation. You need to do something original or unusual to promote your music and open it up to a wider audience.

For most independent artists at this level, the most powerful promotion is actually word-of-mouth, and artists need to encourage and empower their fans to spread the word. I think Heather probably gets this, but I'm not at all convinced that Bryan does. That ridiculous "No unofficial promotion" sticky post on the official forum, and indeed the whole way the official forum is managed seem to be designed to drive people away.

What the band really need is a web and social media savvy PR person who can encourage and co-ordinate fan promotion.



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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:44 pm

I'd never noticed the 'Unofficial promotion' sticky but I've just had a read and while needless, I don't think it's all that bad. I think you might have a point though, and many fans are only too happy to share (i.e. promote) something they love and believe in. I think Mostly Autumn would benefit hugely from something like a free mini download album, something like four of the best live or studio tracks, available for those who 'Like' the band on Facebook or Tweet about it. The same goes for a free download from a forthcoming album. Apart from the fans directly engaged with the band, via the mailing list etc., I don't think there are many other ways to find out when Mostly Autumn have a new album release, but I might be wrong as I'm not generally a follower of other bands considered to be in similar genres to them.
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:15 pm

A bit of background on the "no unoffical promotion" for those who might not have been around in earlier years:

In the early 80s there was a guy called... um, embarassingly I forget his name... anyway, he volunteered to print up a load of flyers and organise fans to hand them out in various parts of the country where MA were due to play. The band gave consent for this, and the fan group even had a name: "MAVENS" (Mostly Autumn Volunteer Network, or something). I'm not sure if all the band were behind it, but Heather at least was vocally supportive of their efforts.

After maybe a year or two, this whatsisname seemed to drop out if sight, not just as head "MAVE" but out of the on-line fan community in general. I think personal problems were given as his reason, but I wasn't privvy to any details.

At about the same time, this "no unofficial promotion" rule appeared on the forum.

Now the two may be completely unrelated, but I did think it weird at the time that they went from the band (well, Heather) being completely behind the idea of fan promotion to being completely against it. I don't want to start any conspiracy theories, but... well, it's always mystified me.
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:43 pm

I'd imagine Heather was either vocally supportive or strongly against many things in the early 80s, with nothing in between. Wink

That gives the message more context though. Perhaps the group did something that showed Mostly Autumn in a bad light, but it's a shame to have the message all these years later when 'street teams' are all the rage and can often do a lot of good to promote a band...as long as, like some, they don't go pestering every single radio DJ with a million requests for the same song - they can do more harm than good.
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:49 pm

David Meadows wrote:
In the early 80s

Doh! Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Still Beautiful   Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:08 pm

Interesting stuff regarding 'unofficial promotion' there, Dave - thanks for the background. I arrived on the MA scene just prior to the release of Passengers, so this was just before my time.

I do think it's faintly ridiculous that MA have such an issue with getting the fans involved, at least in terms of promotion. They could hardly do much worse than CRP managed to do with their "new Pink Floyd" claptrap! There does appear to be a tendency in the MA camp towards maintaining an air of 'mystique' around the band, rather than embracing the limelight wholeheartedly and making themselves available to the press/media on a regular basis. Sure, it's worked for numerous bands over the past few decades, but the internet has thoroughly altered the way that bands are perceived, and I'm not sure that this tendency to be somewhat aloof is doing them any favours. At best it makes them appear like they don't want to move things on. I'm a great advocate of bands keeping their private lives separate to their public, on-stage lives (and ensuring that anything that should be private remains so), but I think MA have moved too far in the wrong direction on this score. Still, perhaps that's just me; clearly, if they can get themselves onto the bill for High Voltage, they're not totally averse to greater exposure!

As for Still Beautiful... £8.99 (and free postage) from Amazon now. Job's a good 'un! Smile
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