Roland Lee Gift - vocals; David Steele - bass, tambourine; Andy Cox - guitars; Graeme Hamilton - trumpet; Martin Parry - drums; Nigel Darville - keyboards; Edna Holt - backup vocals; Guest: Jimmy Somerville - additional vocals on "Suspicious Minds"
Captured at The Ritz during their first visit to America, enjoy Fine Young Cannibals delivering their fluid blend of soul, reggae, punk and pop to a highly receptive New York City audience. Launched by Andy Cox and David Steele following their tenure in The English Beat, the group is best known for the unique voice of lead singer Roland Gift, whose crystal-clear falsetto, not to mention photogenic good looks during "the music video era", gave the band its identity.
Concentrating on material from their self-titled debut, this performance makes it clear why the band received such critical raves and outstanding success during the late 1980s. Gift's restrained vocal passion and the tight R&B/ska-fueled musicianship creates an infectious blend. This formula would reach full fruition on the their second album The Raw and The Cooked, which would bring the band even greater success with singles such as "She Drives Me Crazy" and "Good Thing." Still, even at this early stage, all the elements were firmly in place. The singles "Johnny Come Home" and their cover of "Suspicious Minds," both included in this set, are prime examples. On the latter, Jimmy Somerville (Bronski Beat/The Communards) joins the band on stage to add falsetto vocals of his own.
The group's melodic sense and love of a great pop hook fuels this material. As a result, it all holds up rather well, from the opening "Don't Ask Me To Choose" right through to the set-closing take on Franki Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You," which the group never officially recorded.
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