Thursday, April 13, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 6: LIVE - Mental Jewelry

Album - Mental Jewelry
Artist - Live
Key Players - Chad Gracey- drums, Chad Taylor - guitar, Patrick Dahlheimer - bass, Ed Kowalczyk -vocals
Producer - Jerry Harrison
Released - December 31, 1991

Overview - Formed in 1988 this is the first release from York Pennsylvania rock quartet Live. Released on the final day of 1991 Mental Jewelry was based on the writings of an Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti.

FDF Comments (the songs) - Like many debut records that find moderate success the band had a few years to hone their skills and its evident that they are all skilled players. Some could be the production work but the band knew when to hit hard and often (Pain Lies on the Riverside) or take a step back (Mirror Song). A strong aspect of this record as noted was allowing the members to shine. There a few tracks (Waterboy and Operation Spirit) where the bass is brought way up in the mix and the slap-pop bass work is prominent. I recall seeing the band do "Pain Lies on the Riverside" on MTV and the drummer actually played the maracas in one hand while he slapped out a good portion of the song on his drum kit.(if you heard the song you'd be impressed). The final track "10,000 Years (Peace is Now)" lets the cohesive band click. The drums are mic'd very well, the snare snaps are tight and the band opens up with some rousing bridge sections mid song. There are some vocal delay effects and the acoustic work closes the record out on a heavy, raucous, note.

Where are they now - Live are still at it. A new cd is due in May of 2006 and the band still has the original members. In 1994 they became about as big as any band could ask when they released Throwing Copper (Lightning Crashes is on this record). They continued to play festivals and tour the world continuing to release records every few years. Their popularity has waned in the last few years in America (the last 2 records have not even sold 500,000 copies) the band still has a large following overseas that continues to grow.

FDF Personal Comments - For a few years Live was one of my more favorite bands. After the "darker" Secret Samadhi record was released I started to lose interest. The band took on a a "bigger than you" attitude I felt. A lot of stage prancing and just a lot of arrogance in the press. It turned me off personally but I followed them with the next two records V and
The Distance to Here
. Distance to Here was the last straw, lackluster and flat out boring songs. They released a record after this called
Birds of Prey and I don't know a single person that owns it. I admit I am curious to hear the new stuff based of the overall strength of the first two records. I'll have to listen before I buy. You can find most of the later cds used for less than $3.00

As far as seeing them perform live I saw them on three occasions. The first was a "rescheduled" show. One member had an appendectomy and the show got pushed to a later date. During that time Lightning Crashes became massive and the band had to play this small club. So on April 27, 1994 me and 649 of my closest friends saw live play the Paradise in Boston. It was hotter than hell but the band smoked, I really felt I saw something special. That fall (Nov 22, 1994) I saw them at the 2800 seat Orpheum Theater. Weezer opened and it was a great double bill. The band ended with "White Discussion" and the place was just mad. The final time was July 30, 1997 at Great Woods. A 17,000+ outdoor amphitheater. As you'd imagine the band was pretty big and did little to come back to the strong records. This was the last time I saw them live. If memory serves me correct it was even more fun to make fun of them and the "Jesus poses" from Ed.

FDF Overall take - After those last few paragraphs you either think I am an idiot or way off base. I may have scared you away from the band but lets keep the focus of the review at hand. Mental Jewelry is actually one of the most rewarding listens in my cd library. I went for a walk a week ago and a song from this cd came up and I said "holy crap I need to do an FDF on this". Over the 12 tracks there are soaring sing alongs, great rocking tunes and heart felt melodies. Although it appears LIVE seem to have forgotten what made them so great this is a hell of a cd. There is not a single skippable track on this record.


At 10:43 AM, Blogger Jenny G said...

I LOVE this album. My uncle's ex-girlfriend got it for me because she had awesome taste in music, so I was listening to this as everyone else was listening to Lightning Crashes. I also like Throwing Copper, but I stopped buying their albums after Secret Samadhi. It's too bad Live sucks ass now.


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