Recorded over three years at three U.K. venues with three different bassists, this 1976 live album issued during the extended break between the '75/'76 Siren tours and the late-'78 sessions for Manifesto is more of a sampler of what the band sounded like live between '73 and '75 than a coherent concert document. It's a cross section of Roxy Music MK II covering — aside from accelerated and intensified renditions of "Out of the Blue" and "Both Ends Burning" — Roxy Music MK I.
Released during the mid-'70s vogue for blockbuster live albums, Viva! failed to do for Roxy what Kiss Alive and Frampton Comes Alive did for Kiss and Peter Frampton. But it did provide an opportunity for the American following that had formed in the wake of Country Life and Siren to catch up on Roxy's Eno-era songbook. For such a fastidiously produced band, Viva! is strikingly raw and raucous: Ferry's thespian delivery is even more severe here than in the studio. Particularly wild are extended takes on "If There Was Something" and "Every Dream Home a Heartache," which both offer ample evidence that Phil Manzanera was the most radical rock guitarist between Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Ramone.