Music

Live: V

Stephanie Dickison

Live

V

Label: MCA
US Release Date: 2001-09-18
Amazon
iTunes

The year is 1994. The moment the world heard "I Alone", there was almost an audible moment of silence. Wow. Where did that come from? Who is that?

There are bands that create sounds never collectively heard before: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Limp Bizkit, Moby and most sincerely, Live.

A band that reinvents itself with each new release, and with only lead singer Ed Kowalczyk's voice familiar enough to identify them, Live's fifth album, V, is no exception.

With a fresh sound that integrates the musical influences of India, pop-cultural references ("Is that a Swatch watch?"), and a unique electronic infusion that is only heightened by Tricky's contribution on "Simple Creed", this is by far the most electrifying Live CD to date.

Live is a band that has always managed to weave an intricate tapestry musically and Kowalczyk's lyrical genius has only contributed to their allure. Since their 1992 debut CD, Mental Jewelry (which was based on the writings of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti), the philosophies of the band remain the same: be true to yourself, and the truth shall set you free. The Indian influences remain, but with V, there is a distinct assurance and confidence that comes out of your sound system, through your earphones and knocks you on the floor, leaving only cartoon stars swirling around your head and you scrambling for your earphones, wanting, needing to hear it again and again.

Live has always succeeded in doing what most bands only wish for: selling lots of records, touring and loving every minute of it, garnering fans young and old who follow them from CD to CD and writing music that is intricate, thought-provoking and overwhelming in its honesty. This continues with V.

Originally called Ecstatic Fanatic, this release is rich with sounds that will delight the ear and mind. "Simple Creed" is both a Tragically Hip-type of rock song with the hip-hop tendencies that will have you up out from your behind your desk almost immediately. Tricky's contribution gives it a fierceness that is tangible throughout the entire CD. "Deep Enough"'s sexy lyrics allow Kowalczyk's rap-type stylings to run rampant with:

"We hit a couch, the place was packed / With sweaty palms, sweaty thongs, and sweaty backs / My mouth was dry, my brain cold high, / The groove was right, so I decided to ignite / Your eyes met mine, your skirt began to rise, / And so did I".

"People Like You" sways back and forth like an elm in November, from a quiet rant to an unleashing that only Kowalczyk is capable of:

"Where (are) the boys in Live? / They're pissin' in the mainstream / Open up your cage / Focus all your rage / The world needs people like you".

"Overcome", laden with strings, piano, and Kowalczyk singing with every fibre of his being, is the album's "I Alone". It will leave you tingling and yes, completely overcome. You won't be disappointed.

Of course, evident throughout are smart lyrics and a sense that the audience is participating in a conversation. Much like Dennis Miller is able to singe a celebrity with his whippet-like medley of pop-culture references faster than Britney Spears's new, improved breasts emerged on our television screens, Kowalczyk tangles us in his web of words and if most had the chance, they would never leave.

The eeriness of songs past like "I Alone", "All Over You" and "Lightning Crashes" remain, but it is not an eeriness filled with despair. The songs burst forth with a new rage at the world before us, but it is the rage of someone wanting to change the system, to truly make a difference. And no band is more poised for that than Live. No album is more revolutionary than this one.

Proving again that Live is not just about gold records and product endorsements like some people (you know who you are), this CD is dedicated to Live fan Jared Van Horn, who, upon returning from seeing the band at the Midtown Music Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, was killed by a semitrailer truck while pulled over changing a blown tire. He was 20 years old.

This is a real band with real things to say. As 2001 comes to a close, with all that this year has endured, there is no band more suitable for these times. They will continue to evolve and challenge us, mentally stimulate us. How many bands can you say that about?

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image