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Hi ladies, and guys too. It's me, Ric Befara, groomed and shiny. Ready for the new millennium. It's a happy day. Time for a live album review.

It's a happy day. Just like it was on the first song of Spiritualized's first live release, "Live at Royal Albert Hall," a 95 minute tour of the heavens, magnificent and bountiful. What a concert should be like.

I had a few ladies over on the day the album was released. I had some cheese and crackers set out and some wine, Zinfandel 1995, Woodbridge. Of course, there were some shiny nuggets of fine herbal delights.  The ladies, of course (two Russians and a Swedish exchange student) dove right in. 

By the time the second song of the performance came on, "Shine a Light", the blond with the boobs and luscious hips had scooted up pretty close to me (that's one of the Russians, not the Swede), simultaneously filling up another class of the vino.  What timing.  The saxophone on this song will make you cry, but she was frisky, and made the hypnotic, understated drums sound louder than usual.

The other ladies must have felt left out. The Swede got up began dancing like some kind of dream. She had a tight, light blue one piece outfit on, and the delicious melodies of "Home of the Brave" drummed on in the background. Music and ladies. It couldn't get much better.

But it did get better. I'll admit, for a guy whose first album had a title not even worth repeating here, Jason Pierce can put together some tunes.  What you might be surprised to learn too is that this guy can sing. You wait for him to stretch it out a bit, but he never does. That's the kind of voice he has.

The live version of "Medication" is delightful -- more urgent than the studio take, and worth the price of the album alone.  One of the Russians didn't think so.  She thought it was boring. I just filled up her wine glass and told her to concentrate. I winked at her and she smiled. She had nice teeth; Europeans always have nice teeth.

I tried to explain to the Swede what I thought Spiritualized try to represent: a belief that you can experience all of life's emotions and feelings in an abbreviated time period (with a little help too). As if the complete life, spanning decades, is no more than a more rapidly changing life spanning 10 minutes.  She didn't really understand. I didn't really either.

But I think don't think you're supposed to.  The vast majority of this album is an unexpected clash of disparate sounds. And when you've given up hope, when you've realized that form matters little and you might as well rock out, the music turns to a seamless orchestration of melody and harmony. That's why the last song on the album, "One happy day," sedates you into thinking that the all the noise before has a mission and a point. You're satisfied and mystified.

But back to the ladies. I ran out of wine. Shit, I only make 300 a week, what do you expect? They got sober and left.

I played the album again.

USOUNDS | 12.13.98



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