Subject: Live Noise
Author: GORDON ELGART at EPEP1PO1
Date: 5/19/98 6:37 PM
At lunch today, I ran out to my local record store - About Music in Greenfield, MA, the best record store in America servicewise - to pick up my copy of Live Noise. I know it was my copy because when I walked in, they took it out from the front counter and it had my name on it. I called the store on Saturday to make sure one would be waiting for me. Turned out they had ordered three! Imagine that, a tiny little record store in Greenfield orders three. Tower in New York better order 300 or maybe even 3000!!!
After paying $16.25 for it ($15.49 + tax - .01 so that it would come out even), I ripped it open as I walked to Antonio's to get a grinder (sub, hoagie, long thin sandwich, fill in your word for it) and after ordering, I sat down and looked through the packaging.
The cover, front and back, is very eye catching. Nice bright colors accompany an excellent picture on the front cover. The four photos on the back are not as good as the ones chosen for the poster. Murray looks downright scary! (For reference, the poster contains the picture of Mike with the sunglasses, Jian holding the cordless mic with his right hand, Murray shaking his head while playing a killer riff on the bass, and the large picture of Dave from the Dave page). I also took the time to notice that 13 of the 15 songs (counting King of Spain twice of course) contain the letter O, whereas only 8 of them have an I, 8 of them have an A, 9 of them have an E, and a piddly 3 of them contain the letter U. What does Moxy have about the letter O anyway? Please discuss.
The inside packaging has some fun photos and a little blurb from Fruvous about the live album experience. It gives us the genesis of the incorrect answer to the lowest highest point query (MOOPS!) and it calls us "the most enthusiastic fans a band could hope for."
There is a small problem with the internal fold out that tells us where each song was recorded and when. It is the problem that you have if you watch an old video transfer of a black and white movie and the subtitles are in all white. Does anyone know what I mean? Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how you look at it, you can't read some of the words because they are in white on white background. When did they record Fly?
Astute observers will note at this point that the King introduction is from New York and the King of Spain itself is from Buffalo. Ahhh the joys of modern editing!
So I took some "project" time off of the phones today at work - actually to work on a project, but also for uninterrupted listening opportunity. I just couldn't wait to get in the car to listen to it.
It starts with a rockin out Michigan Militia. Mike's vocals through the megaphone are crystal clear, the bass just drives like a semi down the rock and roll highway - this tune just rocks. If the world we live in was more open to lyrics that actually said something other than "I love you" or "I am so depressed" or "I hate you" or "I hate myself, you and I am so depressed" this song could be huge. But instead, we can have it as our own shining jewel. May this never leave the regular concert set.
We continue on with a blistering Jockey Full of Bourbon. Again, nice crisp clear vocals on this stalwart. I could go on like this for every song, but I'll try to briefen (that's not a word!) things up a bit.
Horseshoes is nice here, but it is backed up with Fly which creates sort of a down portion of the disc. These wouldn't regularly be played back to back live for the same reason. The sequencing in general is a little bizarre but, hey, it had to go in some order.
Boo Time is needed here on a live disc if it truly was to be a look at songs that "bloomed into fine two-way defensemen after a disappointing rookie year" (Chris Pronger - captain of the St. Louis Blues and Norris Trophy finalist - is a good example of this in case you are ever called upon for one). I am sure it was a question of which one? A classic example of a song that I dismissed on the album and I look forward to with grand pleasure during a show.
The King of Spain presented here is workmanlike. I don't know how necessary a King of Spain is on the disc considering that the Cranky Monarch version comes later. But since this disc, as a whole, seems like the "Hi we're Fruvous" disc, King of Spain needs to be on it for that purpose. How many of the so-called old timers found the band by this song?
BJ comes on next. See the "Hi we're Fruvous" remarks. One notable thing about this version, and I have heard this on other versions, is during the megaphone section, Mike leaves his lyrics momentarily and brings us a little classic Falco. If you know what I mean, you are getting old like me.
Johnny Saucep'n - this goes a wee-bit faster than the B album version, but without the hand jiving Fruheads, something seems to be missing from the performance. But what live show would be the same without it. The amazing thing is how fast the band was able to change instruments between BJ and Johnny. Oh wait, there's that editing thing again, right?
The a cappella Message to You here is absolutely scintillating. The harmonies sound perfect on this recording, which they sometimes fail to do in the concert halls in which I normally hear this. I am very glad to have this on disc for posterity's sake. Now that Moxy has started doing a cappella BeeGees, can I hope against hope for Tragedy? I love that song - used to play it every Wednesday night at the jukebox at Pauline's when my mom was in grad school and i would have shells with meatsauce...
Onto Authors which is presented here in the last example of the Fruvous introduction. I like how you can hear the audience saying "we're Moxy Fruvous from Toronto and my baby loves a bunch of authors" along with Jian. Stuff like this brings smiles to my face, whereas someone hearing this without having seen them a bunch of times might think "how the heck did they all know he was going to say that?"
We have a pretty cool No No Raja next. The recording sounds crisp and the performance makes me feel for Raja. This is followed by a typical Video Bargainville. This song has a different flavor than on the original Bargainville disc, but is not a real great example of why I like Moxy Fruvous. I wouldn't miss it were it to disappear, but the band seems to like it, and heck, they're the band.
Psycho Killer which has been closing shows quite a bit since its original introduction is presented here, lining the pockets of David Byrne. From the first time I heard this, I thought it was a perfect cover song for Fruvous. I always get a laugh from a certain part of the live performance of this song, which is evident here as well. David Byrne, when singing this song, sings two descending notes after the first "run run run away." Jian Ghomeshi, when singing this song, sings three ascending notes at that point. And all these people in the audience sing the fourth note, because that it was happens after the second "run run run away." Well I think it's funny.
The Cranky Monarch Version of King of Spain follows. We had been calling it Grunge of Spain, but I guess now in setlists, perhaps Crank of Spain? Another piece I am glad to have on a nice crisp compact disc. Dave keeps getting crazier and crazier with the guitar - this song is going to have a ripping 7 minute playing with a bow a la Dazed and Confused in the Song Remains the Same in a few years. You'll see.
Finally we get the Drinking Song, which I suppose is the way a live album of Moxy's should end. I can't really lock arms and sway at my desk or while driving in the car, so I guess some of the feeling is missing. But for anyone who has been there with me or without me, you can grab the emotions and transfer them to your favorite point in time. You may be thinking, "Gordon! What about all the little comedy bits in between the songs? Are you going to ignore them?" And the answer to that question for any readers who are still with me is no!
Call me crazy, but I think the comedy bits are enhanced the more often you see the band. A lot of humour is based on what is known of the characters involved. It is much easier to make a joke in front of friends than it is in front of strangers, which is why some people who are so funny make lousy standup comedians. The jokes are based on familiarity.
In this case, a good job is done taking some excellent bits. The Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh thing is funnier if you were standing in Philly when he said this, however. Just last weekend, Jian said "it's great to be back at Harvard" - it is the same joke. This bit feels out of place to me here.
The "Good Date Band?" is a classic, however. I wish it could have gone on forever. I have mentioned the Lowest Highest Point way too much in the last two weeks. Yes the Trivial Pursuit card is wrong, but it doesn't matter here. This was a high point of this particular show. And it was recorded by Jason Reiser as stated in the liner notes. Of course on the back of the album it says "This entire album recorded at.....by....." and his name or this venue is mentioned. Shouldn't there be an asterisk or something? Roger Maris where are you?
The Nature Sounds bit is only a small part of what was a lengthy look at nature tapes. There was a guy in the audience doing a great bird sound and we spent quite a time making noises. It was a heck of a lot of fun.
The Kasparov vs. Deep Blue bit is the all-time funniest thing they may have ever done, and putting this mystery recording of it was a masterstroke. I say "mystery" because it does not say anywhere in the notes who recorded it. Anyone have any guesses?
The "Losers" track was just an excuse to have 23 tracks on the album instead of 22. Is 23 somebody's lucky number? I don't mind the line being there, but did it need its own indexing? And what is the point anyway - are we being told we're losers? Or is it just supposed to be self deprecating humour? Or maybe, just maybe, I have spent way too much time analyzing this whole album.
If you made it to the end, congratulations! As always, I warmly welcome any sort of reply, be it nasty, mean and ugly or hearty, happy, and kindhearted. I just like knowing that someone is paying attention.
"One down, one to go, another town, one more show" - Yes, Leave It,