Local H’s Alive ‘05: Intensity in Two Cities!
J. Gordon
10/27/2005 11:03:26 PM

Live albums are always iffy: The sound quality is sure to be diminished, and if you’re talking flat-out rock (like Local H), you know that at the show the lead singer, who had put all his time in the studio straining to get things just right, is gonna recklessly holler it out, miss lyrics, and occasionally the key. Also, on the typical live rock album, you’re gonna have to suffer through hearing the audience fill in lyrics when the band throws the mic toward the crowd (why must they continue to do that? Nothing sounds worse than the crowd singing.) But there are beautiful things you can only find in a live album, too: improvised jams, ad-lib verses and stage banter that real fans treasure. And that’s why Local H’s Alive ‘05 [Cleopatra Records] is as essential to their fans as a loud car stereo.

To the uninitiated, Local H looks like big, dumb rock act. I’m talking about the in-your-face, whiplash-inducing, crash and burn of guitar and drums. I’m talking an angry, bad boy singer, snotty lyrics, and a band of idiots in the mosh pit. And that’s all totally the case. But go a little deeper, and you’ll find achingly-clever lyrics, nuclear-fueled aggression, and smart political commentary from the heart of the band, and one of the best and underappreciated voices in rock today, Scott Lucas.

There are some fine versions of great tunes like “Everyone Alive,” “All-Right (Oh, Yeah),” “Heaven on the Way Down,” “Hands on the Bible,” and “Hey Rita.” True to the live shows (and in the ten or so times I’ve seen Local H, I’ve never seen a bad one), Lucas has a lot of fun with the guitar and distortion that you don’t get on the studio albums. And Scott Lucas’ guitar playing is just another thing he’s not appreciated enough for. The new CD, cut from “millions upon millions of hundreds of hours of tape recorded during Local H’s extensive 2005 world tour…” (that’s in the liner notes) features 18 songs in total—all the hits—also true to a live Local H show. Speaking of those liner notes—get ready for a good laugh. Especially if you’re old enough to remember Frampton Comes Alive. That’s all I’ll say about it here.

Alive ‘05 also features of studio version of Local H’s cover of Britney Spears “Toxic,” which is worth the price of the CD alone (and blows the original away—as if that would be a hard thing to do). And bonus: this enhanced CD contains 4 videos made by fans: two videos for the song, “Cooler Heads,” and one each for “No Fun,” and “California Songs.” If you’re not familiar with Local H, pick up their second and biggest selling album, Good As Dead, to get a solid grasp of the greatness of this small-town Illinois band. If you’re already a fan, or if you just love to RAWK!, you’re gonna wanna own this one quick.


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