Ah, the "Miramar Years." Following a three-album deal with Private Music that concluded with the mostly bland Melrose, Tangerine Dream's "newfangled" sound got even more conventional with the oddly titled Rockoon. With his son Jerome and saxophonist and part-time keyboardist Linda Spa in tow, Edgar Froese seemed to be patching the gaps left by Chris Franke, Johannes Schmoelling, and Paul Haslinger—who left before the switch to Miramar—with the sonic equivalent of Quik-Set™! Let's just say everything was sounding fairly "stock" at this point, down to the plaintive arrangements, uninteresting guitar and keyboard solos, and even the sounds. As far up as 1985's Le Parc (or even a year later with Underwater Sunlight, the first with Haslinger), a TD fan could generally look forward to the newest sonorous concoctions of Chefs Franke & Schmoelling.
To quote Bill Murray from Stripes: "…and then depression set in."
As one who witnessed the sad echo of coolness that was the '92 Tour, to say it was a far cry from its 1988 counterpart—preserved sonically as Rockface—is a waste of breath. Even if sole original member Froese and the talented Haslinger were a trio completed by the invisible Ralf Wadephul, at least we got the trio and a rather solid setlist so that we could feign awe and go with the flow. The '92 Tour, which can be glimpsed on this DVD, was marred by Jerome's spandex, Linda's wholly aimless sax textures, Edgar's keyboard miming (it wasn't even close at times), and the eye-rolling spastic mannerisms of hired gun guitarist Zlatko Perica—whenever he wasn't zipping all over the fretboard like a poor man's Joe Satriani. And unlike '88, this time Edgar left all the classic tracks at home, aside from the ubiquitous "Phaedra" (unless one counts "Love On A Real Train," in which case its status is subject to debate). No title track from Stratosfear, no excerpt of "Poland," no "Choronzon," no taste of Tangram.
It could have been worse: in lieu of "Hamlet" and its excellent guitar solo by the elder Froese, we could have gotten another "Treasure Of Innocence" or "Oriental Haze," both examples of substandard writing. Not bad, but definitely sub-par. Breathe a sigh of relief: not all of the show (which was virtually identical from venue to venue) is represented on this DVD (which is also included as an audio CD). And while this is all taken from the stop at Seattle's Paramount Theater on the 25th of October, not all of the tracks are represented by said footage: "Dolls In The Shadow" is cued to the unforgivably silly promo video shot in the Mojave Desert, and which features the Froeses and then-member Haslinger riding bicycles across the landscape at full light and dusk. "Treasure Of Innocence," "Love On A Real Train," and "Hamlet" are set to clips from the TD vault, stitched together; "Graffiti Street" features live shots interspersed with time-lapse nature photography (what a concept); and for an abridged "Phaedra," what else but a kaleidoscope.
Though not without its grace points, Live In America 1992 may have been better off tucked away on a shelf; as it is, it only helps to tarnish the lasting image of a band that once could do no wrong. (Fortunately, we have the archival release that is Kyoto, due out shortly, to return us to vastly better times!)
1. Two Bunch Palms
2. Dolls In The Shadow
3. Treasure Of Innocence
4. Oriental Haze
5. Graffiti Street
6. Backstreet Hero
8. Love On A Real Train
10. Purple Haze