Universal [Release date 19.07.19]
With their roots dating back to 1984, and a name change or two, LIVE formed in Pennsylvania, USA, and in 1994 released this, their third album. Mixing hard rock and alternative rock, this album brought LIVE to mainstream attention. It charted highly in many countries, and spawned the singles ‘Selling The Drama’, ‘I Alone’, ‘Lightning Crashes’ and others. So here we have a comprehensive reissue, in a 12” book format with 2LPs, booklet, and 2CDs, some good bonus material.
LIVE released ‘The Death Of A Dictionary’ in 1989, while still called Public Affection (who also released an EP), the line-up being Chat Taylor (lead guitar, backing vocals), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass), Chad Gracey (drums) and Ed Kowalczyk (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), although the band have since utilised additional guitar and keyboards on stage. 1991 saw the band change their name to LIVE and release ‘Mental Jewelry’, their major label debut, accompanied by bigger tours and people taking notice.
Which brings us to 1994 and ‘Throwing Copper’. With the grunge boom dying (or about to), alternative rock was in full flow, giving classic rock a jangle and a drone. The band’s sound was cemented, honed with the Woodstock ’94 performance. Recorded in the latter half of 1993, the album caught the zeitgeist perfectly, so was bound to do well. Adding to the sound was producer Jerry Harrison, who had found fame in the 70s and 80s as a member of Talking Heads and Modern Lovers.
‘The Dam At Otter Creek’ opens with a moody atmospheric feel, there’s a hint of grunge in the rhythm section as it builds and some jangly guitar make plenty of noise while there’s still an underlying feeling to the song. ‘Selling The Drama’ is a little more uptempo with quieter moments. The odd nod to the Rolling Stones moves in a distinct REM direction. Nice use of the acoustic guitar, and there’s a good bass line.
For all the jangle and indie inspired noise, there’s a catchy riff and chorus or two, and it’s easy to see how bands like LIVE kept the post grunge crowd going. ‘I Alone’ is a good example, and there’s a nice feel to ‘Iris’. Even the quieter slower moments have a smoky and effective sound, ‘Lightning Crashes’ another good example.
An album of the time and still good now.
There are three bonus tracks, which are on side 4 of the vinyl 2LP. The bonus CD is the complete Woodstock 1994 live performance, which has had a previously limited release. So while there’s not an enormous amount of new material, this set draws it together well, and the package is excellent. Plenty of pics and a band interview, a solid 12” by 12” feel. The physical format is alive and well, sadly record companies realising that this is how to package an anniversary reissue so late. ****1/2
Review by Joe Geesin
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