Wetton doesn’t so much play the piece as maul and beat it into submission. That impression is prompted in part by the booming nature of this audience recording and Wetton’s omnivorous playing which threatens to overrun the track entirely. Still, it gives you a ringside seat of what the man was capable of in his prime.
The intro to Doctor Diamond, with its descending bass notes, sounds like a quarried hillside being detonated but thanks to Mister Stormy’s tender care, one’s ears become accustomed to aural assault and there’s some exciting thrills and spills to be had. Chief amongst those is the improvisation after Doctor Diamond.
Although the start is missing, the ominous nature of the mood is unmistakable and we can hear David Cross on viola making some bold interventions between the bass and horror-soundtrack Mellotron. The piece quickly accrues pace driven along by Bruford’s unerring snare work. It’s one of those classics that feature a rocking four to the floor section that somehow seamlessly slips into an amorphous section that will have had the audience figuring that it was an entirely composed piece such is the precision control on display.
The second improv emerging out of Easy Money only adds to the impression of a group that can conjure near-miraculous acts of musical telepathy out of thin air. There’s a gorgeous ballad with rhapsodic violin and Wetton playing with a descending line that would later be codified into Trio later in the year in Europe.
Despite the sonic limitations and incomplete versions of Exiles and Easy Money and a truncated Talking Drum, this is another testament to the awesome quality of this quartet.