Who besides Ani DiFranco would begin an album with a piercing buzz and a muttered "I don't know why the f**k I play acoustic guitars"? But then who else would release a double-disc concert set only five years after the las... more »t one? Like 1997's Living in Clip, her latest live document is sublimely packaged and messily recorded, and features the backing of a howling audience and a hot jazz-rock band. Highlights include a funky, almost gangsta take of her best New York song, "Cradle and All"; Julie Wolf's grinding organ on "Napoleon"; and the previously unreleased post-9/11, antiwar poem "Self Evident." The performances (culled from venues across the U.S., as well as France and Canada) feature lots of witty soap-boxing (apparently no one told Ani that Clear Channel's infamous banned song list doesn't exist... does it?) in addition to some gorgeous guitar picking and inventive horn lines. In the end, all the flaws, giggles, stumbling starts, and risky arrangements are a testament to how much she trusts her audience and how much they trust her. Do her fans really need another double live album? When the performances brim with this much charisma, adventure, and conviction, yes, they do. --Roy Kasten« less
Who besides Ani DiFranco would begin an album with a piercing buzz and a muttered "I don't know why the f**k I play acoustic guitars"? But then who else would release a double-disc concert set only five years after the last one? Like 1997's Living in Clip, her latest live document is sublimely packaged and messily recorded, and features the backing of a howling audience and a hot jazz-rock band. Highlights include a funky, almost gangsta take of her best New York song, "Cradle and All"; Julie Wolf's grinding organ on "Napoleon"; and the previously unreleased post-9/11, antiwar poem "Self Evident." The performances (culled from venues across the U.S., as well as France and Canada) feature lots of witty soap-boxing (apparently no one told Ani that Clear Channel's infamous banned song list doesn't exist... does it?) in addition to some gorgeous guitar picking and inventive horn lines. In the end, all the flaws, giggles, stumbling starts, and risky arrangements are a testament to how much she trusts her audience and how much they trust her. Do her fans really need another double live album? When the performances brim with this much charisma, adventure, and conviction, yes, they do. --Roy Kasten
Not a sequel to 'Living in Clip', but that's fine with me
S. Calhoun | Chicago, IL United States | 09/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of SMS/SML a week before the official release date because I ordered it via the Righteous Babe website. Since that time I have been playing this 2-CD set consistently and I definately like what I hear. As the title of this review declares, this is not a sequel to Living in Clip but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In the recording of songs on tour with her 6-piece band between 2000 and 2002, Ani gives her older songs a different twist while simultaneously gracing us with several new songs. Songs like 'IQ' and '32 Flavors' have a definate spin that allows one to appreciate the song in a different, but not less significant, way.The price of the double CD is worth it alone for the spoken word of 'Self Evident' which was recorded live in Ann Arbor. Written shortly after 9/11/01, this song represents a perspective on the events of this day and afterwards not shown in mainstream media. The release of this song cannot be at a better time when we are being slapped in the face with rememberance programs on television and radio. It's reason enough just to turn the TV off, pop in this CD, and not oneself get sucked into all the propaganda.This 2-CD set (the first CD is titled 'Stray Cats' and the second is 'Girls Signing Night') comes with a beautiful digipak and booklet of wonderful pictures of Ani and her band on tour. This new release is not to be missed by any Ani fan."
So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter is so much better
S. Calhoun | 11/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The energy, charisma and authority Ani Difranco conveys at her live shows cannot be adequately captured in a recording. Yet her latest release, "So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter," makes a valiant attempt. The two CD set, individually named Stray Cats and Girls Singing Night, would be a welcome addition to anyone's Ani collection. Although old school, hard core Ani fans who fell in love with her original folk-singer style may be disappointed by her recent funkier transformation. This live CD was a great follow-up to her last release, the double CD Reveling/Reckoning, which left many fans disappointed.Even though Ani put out a live CD five years ago, "Living in Clip," this album has a distinctively different sound and style to it. Each track on this new album sounds uniquely different from its previous recordings, even the songs included on other live CDs. The tracks, especially "Napoleon," aren't as melodic or as polished as some of the songs on Living in Clip. I definitely miss the orchestra from Living in Clip. But "So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter" has a beautifully integrated brass section.As always, she's confident in her craft and her socially aware messages. Her lyrics are not for the lighthearted, easily accessible listener. Almost of all her songs address some social issue that most artists tend to shy from approaching more taboo subjects. If you are offended easily, Ani's shocking lyrics are probably not best. Some males may find it difficult to identify with her strong feminist views. For those who may be unfamiliar with Ani's previous work, the two-CD set would be a good, easy introduction to Ani's style of music and her in-your-face political ideas she expresses. The poem, "Self Evident" on Girls Singing Night is a powerful example of her bold, controversial political ideas. The poem expresses her views on the attacks on Sept. 11 and how she believes America has gotten what it had coming-"you can keep the pentagon, keep the propaganda, keep each and every tv, that's been trying to convince me, to participate in some prep school punk's plan to perpetuate retribution, perpetuate retribution, even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution is still hanging in the air."The songs Ani chose to put on the CD are an excellent mixture of recent songs from Reveling/Reckoning like "Grey" and "Ain't That the Way," as well as several faithful older pieces, like the ever popular "Napoleon" about a friend in the business who sold out. Tracks like "Letter to a John/Tamburiza Lingua" and "Cradle and All" are especially more upbeat than their previous recordings and do the best job of capturing the energy and passion she exudes at her live shows. Technically, she's an amazing guitar player. Her guitar acts as another voice and a channel for her expression. Her passion forces you to come in and it engages you. The staccato guitar riffs and additional horn solos missing from some previous attempts are welcome additions to the recordings. Unlike her last live CD, the conversations with her band members and audience that were selected for the album aren't as annoying as some of the banter recorded on previous albums.
She has such a strong, supportive fan base that allows her to experiment and evolve and to see what kind of music and sound she will produce next. Her ever-changing musical style is always done on her terms, never the industries. With each new CD, it's always a pleasant surprise to see what you'll hear."
All Depends on Whether or Not You Love "Band Ani".
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 12/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"At this point in time Ani has 5 live releases. Living In Clip, So Much Shouting, and the three Official Bootleg Series discs (10/9/03: Atlanta, Georgia. 10/25/03: Sacramento, California. 4/7/04: Portland, Oregon)... there is also one called "Women In (E)motion" of the 8/7/94 (or 7/8/94) performance, released by a German label. I'm not sure if that one is in print anymore though, so I'll consider it dead for the purposes of this review.
So Much Shouting is a set that some Ani fans will love, and some will not care for all that much. I never really fell in love with Ani's band sound during this era, the era with her biggest band yet. Ani, drummer, bassist, Julie on keyboards, and the couple horn players. I really wasn't against the band even after she added Julie, but the horn players are too much for me. It's not that I feel Ani's tunes cannot work with horns, it's just that I cannot stand the horn players she chose. Ani is a brilliant and unique guitarist, so it causes me light physical pain to be hearing her generic horn soloists when it could just as easily be Ani who is dominating the sound.
What it really comes down to for me is that so far Ani has never been in a band where anyone else in the band was even 25% as talented and emotionally powerful as is she, and as she added more people to her band, her role within the band became smaller. Thus, you're hearing less Ani vocals and guitar work, and more generic clutter by Julie and the horn players. We all know that Ani's vocal styles have changed alot over the years, and again, this era is my least favorite. During this, the full-band punchy-funk era she became less of a singer and more of a percussive-voiced talk-shouter. Her voice kinda became another ryhthm instrument in this already punchy band that was rather light on melody.
I know this all sounds harsh, but there are indeed some tracks here I like. Grey, Cradle and All... Welcome To is borderline great, Napoleon is nice enough, and Self Evident (Ani's poem about 9/11/01) is the most powerful performance on here. There are some other nice tracks as well.
Of the 5 live sets I mentioned, this is easily my least favorite, but that is just me. My preference is for Ani in trios or less (so far). Just for myself, this is a 2-star set, but I am also reviewing it based on how it fares in comparison with her other performances of this era, and in that way it is quite successful and representative. If you didn't like this band in concert, this set will not convert you. If you loved this band, you'll love this set.
I have to say this... her Official Bootleg Series discs are not available here... they are only at her concerts and her website (www.righteousbaberecords.com). I wholeheartedly recommend all 3 of those. The earliest 2 are solo, and the 3rd is Ani with Todd Sickafoose on upright bass. Those are 3 great discs. The sooner numbers 4, 5, and 6 come out, the happier I will be. =)
Thank You for everything Ani! This one isn't my thing, but you still have my love and gratitude for everything you have done and continue to do.
Too much shouting, too little emotion.
goonius | a room in a house on a street in a city just like | 01/04/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This disc could be summed up in one clich'ed phrase: beating a dead horse.As much as Ani has distanced herself both musically and lyrically in the past few years from her earlier work, it strikes me as odd that she would drudge it back up in live form to create a mediocre attempt at a crowd-pleasing compilation disc. The newer stuff - songs from Reckoning/Revelling & To The Teeth live up to the quality I expect from her work and translate powerfully in a live forum. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing a live performance of the poem Self-Evident. Hence the two stars. The older stuff is shouting and nothing more. It lacks emotion, and suffers from the wild cacophony of instrumentation, rendering once-powerful songs disturbingly reminiscent of the dying twitches of a wounded animal. People grow and change over time, and Ani's no exception to this rule. Her music has always been a reflection of this growth. That her latest discs have lacked the raw anger and emotion of her earlier discs is no coincidence in my mind, only a reflection of changing views - seeing things as less black and white and more grey. In fact, it would be less beleivable if her music and lyrics were unchanging. It's one of the things I appreciate most about her. This compilation is a betrayal of who she is at this moment, and as much as I love her older work, it's clear to me that her heart is not in these songs. As for buying the disc - I don't regret it, but it's an awfully pricy piece for only a few truly enjoyable tracks..."