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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Live In The USA DVD Cover
Image © Classic Rock Legends 2003

More Karnataka
The Storm*
HLC Rotherham 2000
w/Mostly Autumn HLC Rotherham 2001
Mean Fiddler 2001
Karnataka In Concert DVD*
w/Sleeping Giant Aylesbury 2002
w/October Project 2002
Classic Rock Festival 2002
Delicate Flame Of Desire
The Brook, Southampton 2003*
Robin 2 Bilston 2003
w/Mermaid Kiss Stourbridge 2003
Strange Behaviour
w/Mermaid Kiss 2004
*accompanied by interview

(27 December 2003) Though it is by no means a bad piece of work, it is a shame that Karnataka's first DVD(review),recorded at London’s Mean Fiddler in 2001 was recorded just before the band raised their game considerably. The catalyst for this was the recruitment of the charismatic Ann-Marie Helderwho has since become a permanent backing vocalist and flautist, and has added considerable depth to the bands live sound and visual presentation over the past two years.

Filmed in Trenton, New Jersey, twelve monthsafter the Mean Fiddler concert, Karnataka - Live In The USA (Classic Rock Legends (UK) DVD CRL 1083, 2003) is a very representative presentation of the band's live set towards the end of 2002. The songs from Delicate Flame of Desire are in strong evidence and well performed, with "After the Rain" already benefiting from additional flute and the strong interaction between the two singers on the large Patriot's Theatre stage (concert review).

Songs to note, especially, are the excellent live arrangement of "The Storm," and the atmospheric album version of "Heart of Stone," the bands most progressive statement to date. The players, too, are in excellent form with Paul Davies on guitar, in particular, in confident mood, while Jonathan Edwards' excellent keyboards are mixed gratifyingly high.

The DVD is well filmed, though the sound is a little "dry," lacking the warmth that the playing deserves, and once again a live recording has failed to quite capture Rachel Jones' singing at its absolute best--though it's still pretty good! The interview footage with the band, for some reason, squinting into the sun, adds very little insight into the gig, but is reasonably welcome nonetheless.

Ed. Note: After the disappointing quality of the Mean Fiddler DVD audio, the band secured an agreement with the label to mix the Live InThe USA DVD themselves. Indeed a mix was prepared by the band--not only wasn't it used, butthe production copy audio is out of sync with video for the first several tracks. Apologies were issued by the band after the initial release of this DVD.Both of the band's DVDs are available in PAL andNTSC versions.

Read further reviews and order the DVD fromamazon.comhere.Overall, this is a welcome addition to Karnataka's recorded output, and I'd recommend it, especially to potential new fans.--Stephen Lambe

Live at the Robin 2, Bilston, England -04 Nov 2003

Review.One year on, and the band have just completed the second leg of their Delicate Flame of Desire (concert review,album review)tour, and have further benefited from their latest extended period on the road. One of the things I like about Karnataka is that, unlike most bands, they never really drop items from their live set, circulating older songs on a regular basis.

This gig at the excellent Robin further developed the interaction between both singers, which has become considerably more intimate. Rachel has always lent a strong sexual element to her performance, and with Ann-Marie now well established in the band this has gone up more than a notch, as has, fashion fans will note, the level of colour co-ordination between the two of them.

As well as the now well established songs from the new album, and the new song that has been in the live set for a few months "These Dreams are Over"(here played as the encore), the band alsointroduced a couple of new pieces a short, catchy song played early in the set, and a longer, more intense song with an eastern flavour, during which Ann-Marie played an interesting, horned, Arabian-sounding wind instrument. These new pieces give little clue as to what the next album will sound like, but it’s fun trying to guess.

Aside from these new pieces, the band benefited considerably from the excellent stage, lights and sound available at the Robin, which remains one of the best club venues in the Midland area of England, and delivered the sort of passionate, confident, professional performance we have come to expect from them.

It's good to see that they are continuing to develop and challenge themselves, and I look forward to seeing what further excitement 2004 brings them.--Stephen Lambe

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