After 10 years and four albums, Europe's Brazen Abbot has finally released a combination best-of/live album. Truth be told, though, the band would have been better off simply issuing a compilation of studio tracks, because A Decade of Brazen Abbot Live sounds sloppy and rushed. Plus, how can a band celebrate a decade of music with musicians who - with the exception of founding guitarist Nikolo Kotzev and to a lesser degree, erstwhile Brazen Abbot vocalist Joe Lynn Turner - weren't even a part of its past?
Recorded in Bulgaria in 2003 near the end of the band's tour for Guilty As Sin, this set features Bulgarian native Kotzev (formerly of Baltimoore) on guitar and newcomers Lars Pollack on keyboards, Wayne Banks on bass and Thomas Broman on drums. Brazen Abbot has been a revolving door for such singers as Glenn Hughes, Göran Edman and Jorn Lande, but it is Turner who handles lead vocals here. Unfortunately, he doesn't find his groove until about midway through the 11-song set - which is further marred by a poor mix.
Of course, there are still some highlights - including the two-part "Guilty As Sin" (which shows off Kotzev's shredding might), the ultra-melodic "Supernatural" and an enthusiastic run-through of Rainbow's "Can't Let You Go" from 1983. An acoustic studio version of "Love Is On Our Side" is tacked on as a bonus track and proves (along with the band's previous albums) that Brazen Abbot is capable of achieving more than this collection indicates.
The nearly two-hour region-free DVD (sold separately) includes footage from the Bulgarian gigs captured on the companion CD, as well as a love-fest documentary about the history of Brazen Abbot featuring interviews with Kotzev, Turner, Edman, Hughes and Lande. Worth noting is rare footage from of an acoustic promotional gig Kotzev and Turner did to promote 1997's Bad Religion, Brazen Abbot performing Rainbow's "Stone Cold" on a Bulgarian television show and a bizarre outdoor concert during which the crowd was kept to at least a 30-yard radius around the stage (making it look as if the band were performing to an empty audience). While the DVD is designed for longtime Brazen Abbot fans, it proves much more entertaining than the CD and provides insight into the band that may even make listeners hear the CD in a new light. But that still doesn't explain why Kotzev didn't opt for a better-sounding and more credible studio retrospective …
1) Mr. Earthman
2) One Life to Live
3) Slip Away
4) Guilty As Sin Parts 1 and 2
6) Keyboard Solo
7) Can't Let You Go
8) I'll Be Free
10) Drum Solo
11) Road to Hell
12) Love Is On Our Side (Acoustic Bonus Track)
Note: The DVD features a slightly different track listing and also includes bonus footage from various performances, as well as interviews with Kotzev and most of Brazen Abbot's vocalists.