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Friday, August 12, 2011

Agnostic Front: Live At CBGB


1) Victim In Pain; 2) Public Assistance; 3) United Blood; 4) Friend Or Foe; 5) Strength; 6) Blind Justice; 7) Last Warning; 8) Toxic Shock; 9) United & Strong; 10) Crucified; 11) Liberty & Justice; 12) Discriminate Me; 13) Your Mistake; 14) Anthem; 15) With Time; 16) Genesis; 17) The Pain Song; 18) Fascist Attitudes; 19) The Eliminator.

Yes, it is indeed a live album from Agnostic Front, playing their hearts out in a place that was once sacred to American music history (until they raised the rent). And it is nice to know that, al­though a live setting usually gives one a good chance to loosen up and go for extra chaos, Miret, Stigma & Co. are as tight and concentrated live as they are in the studio. Which does not make Live At CBGB a necessary addition to your hardcore catalog — but justifies getting it instead of the three original studio albums if, like me, it takes you a really long time to figure out all the dif­ferences between the individual tracks.

Or perhaps not, considering how Miret now sticks to his Liberty & Justice vocals on pretty much every single track. Granted, singing it live, without the benefit of extra session time and ex­tra takes that stupidify the lungs to the required extreme, is a bit of a relief. You can even make out a few words in the English language every now and then. But overall, all the vocals are re­done according to AF's latest pattern — and some of the song choruses have been recast in the «gang» model (e. g. 'Victim In Pain', whose "why... am I..." etc. is now barked out loud by the entire band rather than Roger solo).

Other than that sad little turn of events, there's nothing to dislike about Live At CBGB that we didn't already dislike. There is a small amount of banter to variegate the pot, but it is not very in­teresting and generally predictable (Miret dedicating songs to the NYPD etc.); in an amusing twist, Roger also makes the audience take the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of 'Liberty & Jus­tice For...' in the place of the studio original's kiddie introduction (curious how many people at the bar actually remember the silly words). That's about all there is to say, really. Except for a trivia bit — I may be wrong about it, but I think it was the very first official live album actually recorded at CBGB, or, at the very least, the very first album titled Live At CBGB. Kinda odd, considering how CBGB's main claim to fame is in breeding and nurturing the 1975-77 crowds, not the hardcore mutants that started sprouting several years later. Of course, the band had always had a very special relation with the club — which reminds me to remind you not to confuse the original Live At CBGB with the entirely different 2006 release sporting the same name, from a period when Agnostic Front and others were trying (unsuccessfully) to prevent the place from shutting down.

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