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With few exceptions, a pop or rock song should not be ten minutes long. Just got through hearing the live version of Carbon Leaf's "Follow the Lady." It's over ten minutes long. The quite-good studio version, available at MP3.com, is five and a half minutes long.

So what do you get in the expanded edition? A lot of mandolin noodling, including a remarkably out of place snippet of "Ode to Joy." It goes nowhere -- and then they suddenly remember that they need to finish the song.

The biggest difference between old Seven Nations and the modern version with Dan Stacey and Scott Long is that they're actually more interested in songs than jamming. Reminds me of Metallica's lead singer once saying that their album with "Enter Sandman" was written as a challenge -- can we make an album full of good songs rather than rely on jamming?

Pop songs should not have "director's cuts." They should be just as long as to make their artistic statement, and no longer. 7N's "Our Day Will Come" on Road Kill Volume One and "Scream/The Surprise Ceilidh Band Set" on The Pictou Sessions fit the bill. "Follow the Lady" live emphatically does not.

I really like Carbon Leaf. I'll like them even more when they get a little more disciplined and focused on stage.


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Having seen and heard a lot more of Carbon Leaf since I wrote that entry, I've got to say that they are more focused than I gave them credit for and their live album has really grown on me. But a ten-minute "Follow the Lady" is still too long. :)