CD Review of Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album by Reel Big Fish

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Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album
starstarstarstarstar Label: CD Baby
Released: 2006
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You might think over two hours of live music from a ska band might be just a little too much to digest – and you’d be wrong: Reel Big Fish’s Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album is an absolute blast. You can just feel the good time sweeping through your speakers from the first notes of “Trendy” all the way to the conclusion of “Sell Out” some two hours later. Many bands’ studio albums don’t translate well to the live milieu. On Our Live Album…, the Fish prove that their live shows, and live presentation, are every bit as good as their studio work, if not better. This band was meant to be experienced live.

The double disc offers lively interpretations of songs from the band’s five studio albums. The more recognizable material is represented here with “She’s Famous Now, “Beer,” “She Has a Girlfriend Now” and “Sell Out,” and those are cool, but it’s the cover songs that make the record a necessary purchase. Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution,” Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly,” a-ha’s “Take on Me,” and the Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” get ska-punk-popified and are complete gems. If you don’t get the record, you have to at least download these.

You get the hits, you get the covers, now how much would you pay? Don’t answer that, because there’s more. Yes, you also receive, at absolutely no extra charge, the very sophomoric, incredibly funny, and amusingly stupid stage banter that will make you smile and shoot milk out of your nose (if you happen to be drinking a glass while listening to this fabulous release).

The first disc ends with “S.R. (The Many Versions Of),” which the Fish morph into a variety of different musical styles, including punk, blues, disco, country, garage rock, old school rap, and death metal. “S.R.” showcases the band’s sarcastic smartass side, while also emphasizing its awareness of the pop landscape. Aside from being a bitingly funny satire, it’s 9:28 of pure genius.

Previous Reel Big Fish releases were often fine records, but even if you were a fan, they probably didn’t make you want to wear them out on your CD player. Our Live Album is Better than Your Live Album will – and, by the way, it probably is better than most live albums.

~R. David Smola