Search This Blog

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Charlatans: Live It Like You Love It


1) Love Is The Key; 2) Judas; 3) Tellin' Stories; 4) A Man Needs To Be Told; 5) One To Another; 6) The Only One I Know; 7) Impossible; 8) North Country Boy; 9) You're So Pretty, We're So Pretty; 10) Weirdo; 11) How High; 12) Forever; 13) And I Fall; 14) Sproston Green.

One of the last things this world needs is a live album by The Charlatans. Actually, let us cast the net wider: few things in this world make less sense than any live album by any Britpop band — all these guys live for the studio experience, and their concerts are mainly an excuse for the fans to go wild, which is the obvious reason why they very, very rarely come out with official live recordings (even Blur, I think, had to wait until their reunion solidified their legendary status, and even then, made sure that the audio experience would be inseparable from the video image). Why The Charlatans, a band that was rarely perfect in the studio, decided to follow up the Wonder­land tour with a live album, I have no idea.

Quick question: Is this stuff any good? Quick answer: Absolutely not. If you are tepid about The Charlatans, stay away from it — life is too short. If you are rabid about The Charlatans... just go see The Charlatans in concert — life is too short. Here is everything about Live It Like You Love It that you need to know: (1) It is heavily biased towards Wonderland and post-Rob Col­lins material in general, which is understandable, given that it was recorded in Manchester on December 14, 2001, but also means that the album cannot really function as a «greatest hits live» type of package; (2) Most of the songs are played as close to the original version as possible, but the musicians sound sluggish, and the power of the original grooves is seriously reduced, also because (3) the sound quality is mediocre at best, all the guitars reduced to brown mush and the bass melodies barely noticeable. And Tim Burgess is Tim Burgess — just add some bum notes and slurred phrasings that are forgivable during an actual live show, but not really on a live re­cord. And now, think whether you really want to have this.

At one point, they give the fans a pleasant surprise and bring out none other than Johnny Marr himself to play guitar on ʽWeirdoʼ — nice, but since the guitar stays deep in the mix most of the time, you'd probably never notice in the first place, had they not pompously announced Johnny's arrival at the beginning. Another surprise is the last track of the encore, ʽSproston Greenʼ, which is stretched out to almost twice its original length with a huge jam; yet somehow, Tony Rogers just fails, I think, to generate the excitement that Rob Collins managed to produce on the original version. I don't want to say that the band plays all this stuff without any inspiration or deep invol­vement, but it does come across that way. Since I have not heard any examples of their stage performances in the Rob Collins days, there is nothing to compare with, but the conclusion re­mains the same: just stick to the studio records, as there is absolutely no way these guys can make their stuff more exciting, more energetic, more rocking, or at least more different onstage. Totally a thumbs down here, and the title of the album reeks of self-irony — if this is truly how they live it, I'm embarrassed to think of how they really love it.

1 comment:

  1. You're right, every britpop live album is pointless and redundant. Maybe except the Spiritualized live recordings but this is hardly a classic britpop anyway. As for this one, it's simply bad: mediocre playing, no surprises in the setlist, awful recording quality.

    'The Best of the BBC Sessions 1999–2006' is a far better in terms of quality but still pointless. Served as a meaty 'best-of' compilation for me back then and got me into Charlatans a bit but I don't think I'd revisit it in the future.