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Review: "The Association Live" - Association

by Roger Wink, VVN Music

I had the pleasure of seeing the Association in the early-70's and I remember distinctly what great musicians they were.

Unlike so many other artists of the day who had trouble recreating their music in concert, the members of the Association were superb musicians along with being great vocalists.  They recreated their many hits impeccably while still putting on a very entertaining show.

In 1970, the group released a double album, The Association Live, that captured their in-concert sound beautifully but, for many years, it has not been available in the U.S.

On September 29, Verese Sarabande resurrected the album, in association with the original Warner Brothers label, in all its glory.  Here, on one disc, are performances of 21 Association songs including all of the expected hits ("Along Comes Mary", "Never My Love", "Cherish", "Windy"), a few that charted lower and a whole lot of deeper cuts from their catalog.

Also included is all the chatter between songs, a hallmark of many live albums, that shows the good humor that the band had in their shows, although a couple of bits could be seen as a bit dated and politically incorrect in this day and age.  Chalk it up to a snapshot of the times in which the album was recorded.

A few of the songs will be familiar to the listener even though they aren't recognized for the Association's versions.  Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings", the group's second single although it never appeared on an album until here, opens the show and, later, they rock out to Joan Baez' "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You", which was their first single. Also included is Chet Power's "Let's Get Together" which had been a hit the previous year for the Youngbloods.

While so much of the Association's career was based in easy listening fare, they do turn on the electric guitars and heavier drums for a number of songs during the show including the previously mentioned Baez song, their minor hit "Six Man Band" (now sung as "Seven Man Band" since the group had expanded) and a section in the middle of the show with a number of their deeper cuts.

Verese Sarabande has been doing an outstanding job the last few years in putting together compilations of a number of overlooked artists' catalogs along with, as in this case, some lost gems that were overlooked for reissue by their original labels.