Live - Secret Samahdi

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Radioactive
Catalog Number: RARD 11590
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:38:00

First off, buy the album. I can't recommend it enough. While not progressive, at least not in any easily definable way, Live are a band worth listening to. Yes, they have been tarred with the alternative tag - which really is the mainstream tag now (which only points out the uselessness tags anyway) - but they are a band who offer more than the latest alterna-clones.

1991's Mental Jewelry was a tightly wound bundle of issues, wrapped up in memorable rhythms and hummable choruses. In some ways, too tightly bound. With 1994's Throwing Copper, Live loosened up a bit, and got all the better for it.

Here it is 1997 and Live have survived to produce a third album, Secret Samahdi. Not as great as Copper, but fairly close. The same textures on Copper are explored here - the rockers, the countryfied rhythms, the haunting choruses. Standout tracks are "Rattlesnake", "Ghost", "Unsheathed," and "Freaks."

Live retain the strong lyricism of past efforts- one of vocalist/lyricists Edward Kowalczyk's strengths - and find a world of meaning in just a few words. There are songs here that have no one meaning, and hard to get around and say "this is about such and such." (A hallmark of many a progressive band, I might add).

But Live are more than just lyrics - the instrumentation is the other part of the package. While they have loosened up since their debut, this is still a tight unit.

The other difference between Live and their contemporaries is that they aren't afraid to play their instruments.

They don't have to scream and shout over screaming guitars and bombastic drum fills that obscure not only the vocals but any sense of meaning.

Which isn't to suggest that Live are quiet band, far from, but the arrangements allow the instruments to punctuate the vocals. These arrangements aren't simple; there are many pleasant guitar phrases throughout.

"Graze," on the surface, is an ecological song, profoundly declaring in its chorus: "We came to the earth to graze, everyone's diggin in, now there's no time to live." But, take from that what you like, because I think it operates on several levels, especially within the context of the song (as it's supposed to).

"Turn My Head" has all the hallmarks of a ballad - string arrangements, lilting chorus, gentle rhythm, but if it concerns what I think it does, this pleasantry is a bit deceiving. Like Queensryche's "All I Want" and Epilogue's "In The City", there is a underlying level of something very sinister. As I read it, the point of view character has become infatuated with a woman he and others have gang raped. But, as mentioned before, nothing is quite that simple with Live. Don't dismiss the band on the basis of this one song (besides, you may come away with a different reading).

While this album is ripe for (further) analysis and much commentary (this is an edited review you're reading) I'll conclude this review as I began it - if you like music that runs deeper than some of the superficial glossy schlock that passes as music these days, then add this disc to your collection.

Oh. Add their first two as well. You can't go wrong.

Rattlesnake (4:51) / Lakini's Juice (4:59) / Graze (5:39) / Century (3:22) / Ghost (6:19) / Unsheathed (3:36) / Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe (4:01) / Turn My Head (3:57) / Heropsychodreamer (2:48) / Freaks (4:50) / Merica (3:21) / Gas Hed Goes West (5:35)

Chad Taylor - guitar and vocals
Patrick Dahlheimer - bass and vocals
Chad Gracey - drums, percussion and vocals
Ed Kowalczyk - lead vocals and acoustic guitar

Mental Jewelry (1991)
Throwing Copper (1994)
Secret Samahdi (1997)
The Distance To Here (1999)
V (2001) Birds Of Prey (2003) Awake: The Best Of Live (2004)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: August 4th 1997
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 838
Language: english


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