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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"Pay Me Now....Lay Me Down!!!!"

Well now...I spend the last post kvetching about the dearth of decent releases today, and then a quick check on iTunes reveals that this is in fact the release date of Awake:The Best of Live.

In all seriousness, Live's Throwing Copper is a fantastic album of mainstream "alternative-rock" that sounds just as good today as it did in 1994. I remember buying it on Memorial Day weekend of that year, after having seen the video for "Selling the Drama" on 120 Minutes (sensing a trend?), and listened to it a ton. It's incredible how many singles were released from that album and how long it lingered on the radio....I spent the summer of 1995 at golf camp in Pennsylvania, and the van that drove us to the golf courses featured a radio that only played one station. That one station only played three songs the entire summer; Matthew Sweet's "Sick of Myself," Sponge's "Molly," and Live's "All Over You." And how overplayed was "Lightning Crashes"? Dang.

Unfortunately, Live kind of went south with their next record; the 'dark,' mucho self-important Secret Samahdi, which was sort of like U2's War without any good singles or political import. This, added to the fact that the radio stations that had once championed them were now playing Korn records, would keep Live from ever approaching the success they had with Throwing Copper. It also didn't help that frontman Ed Kowalcyzk seemed intent on becoming the next Bono, but the best he could manage was a more palatable alternative to that guy from Creed.

The tracklisting on their hits record reflects this--five songs from Copper (including "Pillar of Davidson," which I always skipped), just two songs from Samahdi, three each from their not terrible fourth album The Distance to Here and debut Mental Jewelry, and a smattering of everything else, including a new song and a timely Johnny Cash cover.

Throwing Copper has sold over 4 million copies, while Live's most recent album, the pathetically titled Birds of Pray has moved about 120,000. Now they play theaters and colleges whereas they once rocked hockey stadiums. But they're still a far better band than most would have you believe.

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