John Wetton – Book Of September (Wyvern JW-27S)

Book Of September (Wyvern JW-27S)

International Hall, Osaka, Japan – September 27th, 1994

Disc 1 (45:52):  Heat Of The Moment, Don’t Cry, Right Where I Wanted To Be, Rendezvous 6:02, Caught In The Crossfire, Easy Money, In The Dead Of Night, Thirty Years (keyboard), Only Time Will Tell, Did It all For Love

Disc 2 (39:14):  Hold Me Now, Starless, Book Of Saturday, Crime Of Passion, Battle Lines, Open Your Eyes, Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Sole Survivor

John Wetton’s involvement with Asia, his most recognizable group, became tenuous in the late eighties and absent in the early nineties.  He departed in 1991 and recorded Voice Mail, released the following year only in Japan.  It was his first solo album since 1980’s Caught In The Crossfire.

He toured Japan in September 1994 as a solo artist, backed by Bob Dalton on drums and John Beck on keyboards of the band It Bites and Andy Skelton on guitars.  This tour yielded a live album the following year called Chasing The Dragon as well as the world-wide release of Voice Mail, renamed Battle Lines.   

Book Of September on Wyvern was issued in late 1994 as the first live document from this tour.  It features an excellent DAT stereo audience tape of the entire performance. 

The set is a good cross section of King Crimson, UK and King Crimson songs along with several cuts from the new album.  He begins with his biggest hit, Asia’s “Heat Of The Moment” played solo as a mellow acoustic ballad.  Although he’s played this arrangement before, it sounds strange without the rest of the band. 

“Don’t Cry” thankfully features the rest of the band and they give a tight performance of the Asia classic.  “Right Where I Want To Be” is the first of the new numbers to be played in the set.  The melody is a bit dull, but Wetton’s voice is powerful and emotional.   

“Rendezvous 6:02” is done well. Keyboardist John Beck does a good job of imitating Eddie Jobson’s work, and is followed by “Caught In The Crossfire.”  This track is one of the highlights of the show with the catchy bass line impressing the audience.  It segues directly into a long reference to “Easy Money,” one of the signature King Crimson songs from the mid seventies. 

“Did It All For Love” is from the strange 1986 Phenomena II project.  It was a number one hit in South America but is largely  unknown elsewhere.  It drips of eighties cheese, even in the stark new arrangement. 

After “Hold Me Now,” another song from Voice Mail, they get into two Crimson tracks.  “Starless” highlights the verses of the song, stopping at the point where Crimson would launch off into their on-stage improvisations.  An online review of the show calls this number “an abomination. Wetton chooses to play only the verse sections, leaving out what is one of the best pieces of music he ever did with Crimson. I can only think he either 1. didn’t want to play complex music anymore 2. Didn’t feel he could play complex music anymore, or 3. Didn’t think his audience wanted to hear him play good music anymore.”

The reviewer’s concerns are justified, but the “complex” part he’s speaking about couldn’t be duplicated by anyone else besides Fripp, Bruford and Cross.  The parts they do play are spine-titillatingly good, recalling the magic of the Larks’ Tongues Crimson lineup.   

Afterwards Wetton mentions Crimson’s famous Central Park show in 1973 as an introduction to an acoustic rendition of “Book Of Saturday.”

He follows with two songs from the latest album.  “Crime Of Passion” is a keyboard heavy eighties power ballad, featuring all of the melodramatic tricks from the hair-band era.  “Battle Lines” is a similar song, but heavier with the piano and much more catchy than “Crime Of Passion.” 

A return to Asia era hits closes out the show.  “Open Your Eyes”  from Alpha formally closes the show with “Smile Has Left Your Eyes” and “Sole Survivor” serving as encores.

Wetton gave an interview while in Japan where he stated he was the happiest he’s been since the mid-seventies with King Crimson.  It’s probably an unfair indictment against his solo projects and the bands he played in during the meantime, but this performance is very enthusiastic and is a fun listen.  Book Of September is a rare John Wetton title and is worth having for the excellent performance and sound quality. 

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  1. I got this CD based on this review. The sound is excellent, altough with distortion on the lower frequencies when played loud in a stereo with subwoofer configuration. Vocals are a bit low to my taste.

    It’s an unusual/weird set of prog and more pop songs. I must confess I’m not an Asia or Crimson big fan but I loved his rendition of IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT (from UK self-titled album), my favorite song of the entire set list. If you find it in a good price (as I did), grab it.


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