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CD Reviews: Review of Live at the House of Blues: New Orleans by Better Than Ezra
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Better Than Ezra: Live at the House of Blues: New Orleans (2004)

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Those who know me well might think that having me review a Better Than Ezra record is like a kid reviewing his pile of Halloween candy. There just hasn’t been anything this band has done over their 10 or so years in existence that I haven’t loved. So when the band’s new live album, recorded in their hometown of New Orleans, was sent my way, I was like, well, a kid in a candy store. Not only are there 14-plus tracks of hits and obscure beauties, but also two new studio tracks.

The album is littered with some of BTE’s more popular singles from the days when modern rock radio was an actual format. Some of those are “Good,” “Desperately Wanting,” “Extra Ordinary” and “At the Stars.” There is a funked-up yet stunning version of the fan favorite, “Porcelain.” Of course, since this band is such a treat to see live, you get some of the cool commentary from lead singer Kevin Griffin. When Griffin talked about “missing” the album How Does Your Garden Grow before launching into one of my favorite BTE tracks of all time, “Live Again,” I found myself remembering that album with similar reflection. Time to burn the whole sucker into my iPod.

As for the new tracks, “Cold Year” is a bit more driving than a lot of BTE’s recent stuff. In fact, it brings to mind an early hit that is also on this live record, “In the Blood.” The other new one, “Stall,” is about dragging a woman into a bathroom stall to have sex. Not only is this a great song musically, but what concept could be more “rock” than that?

Better Than Ezra could wind up being one of those bands that was always on the fringe of greatness, but never quite made it there. But their solid fan base and the fact that they still tour full-time is a testament to the fact that good songs always prevail. And this new live album is proof that BTE is even better live. The only drawback is it left me feeling like I wish I could have been there.  

~Mike Farley 




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