Around the World: Live in Concert
This is the last even halfway essential Osmonds album, not because it can even hold a candle to the majestic Osmonds Live released three years earlier, but because it remains an object lesson in how to put on a show. And what a show it was! As always, the lion's share of the concert was devoted to medleys, showcases for Donny and Marie, Jimmy, and the banjo-plucking Merrill, and ensemble workouts for a selection of Stevie Wonder hits and old rock & rollers. But hit singles and album favorites, all picked with a sharp eye for maximum impact, were interspersed throughout, and it would be the finicky fan indeed who walked away regretting that a favorite song had not turned up somewhere in the performance. Recorded toward the end of the Osmonds' years of true fame, Around the World's sole drawback is that the group was such a well-oiled machine by this point. It is hard to shake the impression that every last scream from the crowd was milked with Pavlovian doggedness, and there are moments when you'd swear that if Donny were just to shake his tush a little harder in either direction, he could actually have played a tune on the audience's voiceboxes. But that in itself is an art form that too few modern-day performers have perfected, for all the hysteria that they seem to generate, which in turn is another reason why this album is so precious. The audience is as much of a performer as the band!