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Living With the Living

11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 20, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For their fifth full-length (and first with Touch And Go), the band met up with Brendan Canty (Fugazi) to iron out a new set of anthems that arrive with a confident and outspoken immediacy. Some songs evoke the melodic spirit of Andy Partridge, Ray Davies, and "ArgyBargy"-era Squeeze, while others clink glasses with The Pogues, while still others find Ted taking his falsetto in new directions with vocals that caress each composition with the greatest delicacy and grace. Along with the punk sound and energy found in the group's previous works, this record finds soul, funk, and R&B injected into the mix.

About the Artist

Indie pop-punk kingpin Ted Leo's sixth album with his band the Pharmacists is as taut, smart, and toe-tapping as anything the Thinking Man's Punk has done. Songs like "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb" show the group has no plans to either slow down or water down their politically charged messages. The guy can write an anthem with the same acuity and attention to pop hookage as Alex Chilton or the Bevis Frond. Musically, Living with Living tilts toward soul, though in a subtle way that's in tune with his prior releases; it's not like he just formed his own update of the Style Council (though that would sound rad). The Pogues-y tune "A Bottle of Buckie" even shows a rootsier side, while "The Unwanted Things" finds Leo working in the time-honored "world" music of choice for punkers, reggae. As eclectic as the record is, it never strays far from what Leo does best: wiry anthems that mix the personal with the political. It almost seems like Leo couldn't make a false move if he tried. --Mike McGonigal


1. Fourth World War
2. The Sons of Cain
3. Army Bound
4. Who Do You Love
5. Colleen
6. A Bottle Of Buckie
7. Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.
8. La Costa Brava
9. Annunciation Day/ Born on Christmas Day
10. The Unwanted Things
11. The Lost Brigade
12. The World Stops Turning
13. Some Beginner's Mind
14. The Toro And The Toreador
15. C.I.A.

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Touch & Go Records
  • ASIN: B000MQ55DO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,574 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. Mackins on March 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
On Living with the Living, Ted Leo and his Pharmacists stretch out just enough to keep it interesting without endangering the classic sound developed on Shake the Sheets, Hearts of Oak, and Tyranny of Distance. Sure, some of the experimentation doesn't really work: the dub song is forgettable, and the extended ending of Lost Brigade is a tad overlong and boring. But neither of these quibbles diminishes the fact that Living with the Living is an expertly crafted collection of intelligent, politically conscious rock'n'roll songs, well worth listening to.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tom Birkenstock on April 15, 2007
Format: Audio CD
"`Cause we're not trying to change when you tell me that I change

and when I try not to change, well then you tell me that I don't change

And there's not much I can change about that, sir"

- Some Beginner's Mind, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

Ted Leo makes music to set your life to. While other bands are content with introspective navel gazing, and still a few others deal strictly with the political, Ted Leo finds a comfortable medium between the public and private, and, ultimately, he shows us there's not a whole lot of difference between the two. Ted Leo attempts to wrap his arms around the immensity of our world. Leo's success is credited to his ability to make his politics seem about the individual. For example, on The High Party he lets it slip that 9/11 is his birthday while ruminating on the politics of propaganda, and on Living with the Living the most strident anti-war song, Bomb.Repeat.Bomb, is told through the eyes of a bomber pilot. His politics sound less like sleep deprived manifesto than the ruminations of someone walking around the city without a destination.

On their fifth LP Ted Leo and those irascible Pharmacists construct a musical diorama of all the styles that have informed their sound. While in his previous albums these influences could be heard through parts of his songs, a bass line here or a lyric there, on Living with the Living, Leo has adopted these styles whole instead of piecemeal. The album feels like he's making a mix tape of all his favorite styles but with his own music. Living with the Living runs through hardcore (Bomb.Repeat.Bomb.), Irish folk (Bottle of Buckie), reggae (Unwanted Things), and new wave (La Costa Brava) just to name a few.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Seamus on April 2, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you've been a fan of the Ted Leo and the R/x for a while, then you should know what to expect from this album: a remarkably consistent collection of very good power pop and rock songs with two or three standout tracks that will become instant favorites.

If you're not familiar with Ted Leo, here's the quick synopsis: clever lyrics and musical experimentation reminiscent of Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, or the Clash mixed with the pop hooks and guitar licks you'd associate with Big Star, Thin Lizzy, or the Pixies.

As for the album: it's everything you can reasonably ask for from an album. Leo is one of the few performers in the indie world who's still making the unpretentious guitar rock that defined the early nineties underground scene. The most negative comments I've heard about Leo fall into two categories: either he's not original enough, or he never changes his formula. Both comments are true--Leo owes a lot to the great songwriters who preceded him. And though his influences are varied (albums often have rock albums, pop songs, and songs influenced by folk, reggae, and punk), it's true that his albums tend to be similar in style and structure and there's no real attempt to make a grand, artistic statement.

But it's really hard to criticize a guy for knowing his strengths and sticking too them. There aren't many lyricists today who can turn a better phrase, and nobody seems to write rock anthems anymore. This albums is filled with great tracks. Ranking it against his earlier albums, it's probably a bit beneath the level of "The Tyranny of Distance" and "Hearts of Oak," but it compares favorable to "Shake The Sheets.
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By SB on August 25, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This cd is not nearly as good as TL's previous releases. The songs are just not as tight and memorable on this outing. His trademark inventiveness, soaring vocals, thoughtful lyrics, and powerful instrumentation are all present, but it all feels sort of pasted-together within each song. Each song has its moments, highlights in time where you feel the emotion, but they seem to be just that: moments-- the complete songs never really form a coherent and memorable whole. I also question the ordering of the songs- the album feels uneven and lurches from style to style in a way that doesn't flow at all.

The four stars are for the fact that this is still great music...but it just feels a bit more like generic indie rock, rather than the stunning and heartfelt music I've come to expect from Ted.

If you are just starting out listening to Ted Leo, I would steer you to Tyranny of Distance or Shake the Sheets, which are towering masterpieces of rock and roll.
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