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Field Recordings
Bell X1 Field Recordings
Released 20 July 2012
Producer(s) Phil Hayes, Bell X1
Label Belly Up
Length 115:43
Genre Rock, pop
Website bellx1.com

Since 2000 Bell X1 have released five studio albums and now two live albums after 2007’s Tour de Flock. In 2010 they decided to go on an acoustic tour of Europe and North America in celebration of ten years since the release of their stunning debut album Neither Am I. Field Recordings is the result - a twenty-one track, double CD released on the bands own Belly Up label.

Armed with just acoustic guitars, keyboards and an iPod the band went on the road and performed stripped back versions of songs from their rather extensive back catalogue. The result of all this is excellent, it really shows that the band can perform with minimal instruments and it doesn’t take anything away from the original versions.

Kicking things off is the amazing, rather understated 'In Every Sunflower' and crowd favourite 'Snakes & Snakes'. Both of these are taken from 2003’s marvellous Music In Mouth album. This album incidentally is probably my favourite Irish album of the last ten years and certainly should be in every music lover’s collection.

Also included are hit singles 'The Great Defector', 'Flame' and 'Velcro' which gets quite a witty introduction to the Vicar St. crowd by Paul Noonan. Fan favourite 'West of Her Spine' gets a great reception in Belfast’s Empire Music Hall. They seem to be doing well in America as songs like 'Just Like Mr. Benn' and 'Rocky Took a Lover' seem to go down well also.

My personal highlight here is 'Sugar High'. It sounds so alive and pure when performed live. The stripped back version is better than the studio version from their Bloodless Coup album which if course wasn’t released at the time of this recording.

The only down point I have is that as this was a tour to celebrate ten years of Neither Am I they only included two tracks – 'Pinball Machine' and 'Slowset'. No sign of 'Man on Mir', 'Beautiful Madness' or 'Offshore'.

Overall this is a cracking live album that both fans and people new to Bell X1 will like and appreciate.

- Leon Byrne