Long-time Tangerine Dream fans have suffered as they watched the band churn out CD after CD that never seem to reach the creative peak that the band reached in the late 70’s.
In 1974, TD released Phaedra, their first mature work, and a classic electronic rock album . The next few years brought Rubycon, Ricochet, Stratosfear & Force Majeure. Each of these albums is a great example of the experimental rock electronica that Tangerine Dream is known for.
During this time, Tangerine Dream was made up of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann, and Christopher Franke. Many consider this Tangerine Dream’s best lineup. It retained the experimental edge of the band’s early years with Klaus Schulze, but also began to create music with greater structure and coherence.
After Baumann left, the band began moving in a more commercial direction. While they’ve been extremely prolific, it’s seemed that they would never release work that captured the spark of the Froese, Bauman, Franke days. Until now.
The Bootleg Box Set Volume 1 is the holy motherlode for hardcore TD fans. This over-the-top set is a set of five concerts, spread over 7 CDs, and contains six hours of new music from the great line-up of Froese, Franke and Baumann. The recordings are, for the most part, good audience recordings that have been remastered. The sound quality isn’t as good as the studio recordings of the era, but the mellotron, sequenced analog synthesizers, and rock guitar work come through loud and clearly.
The recordings are from a variety of sources, and were unofficially being traded in CDR form among TD fans. The recordings capture some of the better concerts of this time period. They include concerts in Sheffield, the Royal Albert Hall, Croydon, Bilbao, and Berlin. The music includes abstract soundscapes that melt into psychedelic sequencer riffs. The concerts are improvised, but contain elements that were used on Rubycon, Ricochet, and other albums of the era.
This particular box set isn’t a great introduction to Tangerine Dream’s music. New fans would be better off getting some of the studio albums of the same timeframe. For die-hard Tangerine Dream fans, though, this set is a necessary addition to the collection.