Samhain box set, Live 85-86 was released as a single-disc standalone in 2001 and, to date, remains to sole legitimate representation on CD of Samhain live. It's a fine, generous disc, with 28 tracks from two separate shows, New York's Danceteria from February 19, 1985 and The Cabaret Metro in Chicago from April 13, 1986. While I do not know if the 1986 set represents a full show, Live 85-86 edits out duplicate tracks from the Danceteria date ("Black Dream," "Halloween II" and "Archangel) to present 18 tracks with zero duplication between the dates and essentially constitutes a live "Best Of" for the band (sadly, it also drops "Die, Die My Darling," "Macabre" and "Moribund" from the '85 half).Originally exclusive to the
Live 85-86 sounds like a pretty good bootleg. The drums dominate everything else (and we do get Steve Zing in '85 and London May in '86) and the band live makes the studio versions sound like polished masterpieces. Each set also provides a neat Misfits cover in the form of "Horror Biz" and "London Dungeon." The band is ferocious live and the tempo is exhausting. While the record adds nothing new nor dynamic in terms of interpretation of the material, it does nicely cap off Samhain's rather limited discography.
A write-up of Samhain would be incomplete without my requisite bashing of E-Magine, who released this record. The package itself looks a lot like a bootleg and my copy is colored orange instead of red, with the "86" partially cut off due to off-center printing. I have always wondered about some very small typography on the spine - anyone know what the tiny characters/numbers below the "85-86" in the title represent?
Used copies of Live 85-86 run $20-25 and are worth the money. This release is complemented by the live DVD (which is still in print), Live 1984 at the Stardust Ballroom, just to take in the band's visual appeal which, when combined with their music, was really extremely powerful.