CHANGES - Hero Takes His Stand - 2xLP - 17 tracks - Neue Ästhetik - 2004

There are some highly awaited records that once at home do not leave your turntable and bring you more happiness than what you could expect. 'Hero Takes His Stand' is definitely one of them... which is something rare these days...
Those who missed the concert given by this folk duo/band on the last 20th March for the fourth edition of the Flammenzauber Festival on the Wasserburg in Heldrungen, have here a second chance to listen to this great performance... and those lucky enough to have attended this festival should love to immerse themselves again into the particular atmosphere created by these beautiful apocalyptic folk ballads...

Starting with the classic 'Fire of Life', Robert N. Taylor and Nicholas Tesluk pass in review a good part of Changes repertory... from the 'Fire of Life' album ('Memorabilia', 'Bleeding Out Your Feelings Evermore' and in particular the beautiful lost love song 'Sweet Eve' opened and closed by a eerie flute...) to the 10" split 'Time' (the excellent lively version of 'Summer' with a stunning final by Nicholas Tesluk on guitar and 'Song of Pan', a beautiful ballad played with guitar, flute, tambourine and vocals).

It is also a pleasant surprise to hear live some rare or more unknown songs like 'Aphrodite' from the 'Zu Neuen Ufern In Alter' compilation as well as 'Icarus' (the b-side of the 'Fire of Life' 7") for which I have, for personal reasons, a particular affection. 'Eddic', the third part of 'Legends' is also played with the help of B'eirth (In Gowan Ring).

They also gratify the audience with a few unreleased songs at that time… 'Orphan in the Storm', a short, simple and very touching song about Edgar Alan Poe, accompanied by the guitar and vocals and standing already like a classic... a medley of two sea shanties 'Embarkation/Sailor's Song', a beautiful erotic song titled 'Somewhere in the night' and 'Never so true' that sounds unfamiliar to me.

The duo was joined on stage by Markus Wolff (Waldteufel) on percussions for 'Twilight of the West' whose lyrics, although they are 30 years old, still have a meaning today. The concert ended in the best manner with a very inspired interpretation of 'Waiting for the Fall', Robert N. Taylor explaining to the audience the origins of this song...

All in all, the general impression is that all the songs gain in intensity and authenticity due to the duo's talent to give life to a story or a poem and their musicianship, of course.
Sad songs sound even sadder ('The saddest thing') and time seems to have no hold on these beautiful love songs.

The songs are punctuated here and there by a few comments from both musicians and the communion and the interaction with the audience is definitely perceptible (enthusiastic applause and shouts from people as proof).

In phase with Robert N. Taylor's desiderata, the colour of the two vinyls is ruby red. Each word of the title is written on each side of the records, with the same beautiful drawn typography used for the whole artwork.
All the lyrics also feature on the inner covers of the gatefold together with a touching text written by Robert N. Taylor about what they felt when playing in a castle in Europe, amongst a friendly audience.

This 70 minute-long double LP has just been released by the German label Neue Ästhetik as a limited edition of 300 copies.
Graphics and inner painting from Robert N. Taylor and Nicholas Tesluk (with that 60's touch), develop a familiar Changes aesthetic... that naturally fits the songs...

I can only praise Axel Meese (the person behind Neue Ästhetik) for his work in production, mastering and recording, and also for having opted for this format and allow unfashionable and timeless Changes songs to carry on being played ever one...

It may sound a bit unusual to read such an enthusiastic opinion about a live recording but this is really a priceless document that I highly recommend.

Nathalie F.
Autumn 2004

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