10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Much, much better than they'd have you believe,
This review is from: Livetime (Audio CD)
Even in their 80s heyday, when the popular hipster viewpoint was that these guys were formulaic slaves to the hit, people in the know considered them one of the greatest live acts in the business. That's probably why they have so many live albums commercially available. Think about it, if the guys couldn't deliver the goods, would there really be so much live product out there? Which brings me to "Livetime." I know even H&O have distanced themselves from this, deriding it as having poor sound quality and characterizing it as an early-career embarrassment. Well, I beg to disagree. From the first vinyl copy I found in the cutout bin to the Japanese CD import I bought six years ago, I've always held this as one of best live albums I've ever heard. I understand that the vocal mic can sound a little thin, but it's not in that tinny, bootleg-sounding way. It actually makes this sound more intimate, like the small club it was recorded in. It gives the listener the feeling of being in on something that's about to explode all across the music world. And the band performances are committed, passionate and technically proficient - everything you'd want from a live performance. The guitars sound great. It's my belief that this album is home to the definitive versions of "I'm Just a Kid" and "The Emptyness," plus glorious romps through "Abandoned Luncheonette" and "Do what you Want" and a positively blistering take on "Room to Breathe." It's kind of funny that the "hits" shine the least, although the 8-minute version of "Sara Smile" is a nice curiosity. I keep a copy of this my car at all times for those instances when I've driving late at night and need something to keep me company. It's great.