Forever May Not Be Long Enough - Live, Ballard, Glen
Call Me a Fool
Hero of Love
When Live debuted in the mainstream in 1991, the band's earnest alt-rock effort Mental Jewelry balanced high-strung emotions with aggressive guitar work. On the band's fifth album, V, the earnestness has completely disappe... more »ared. Everything about this record feels forced and overproduced. Electronic beeps and loops swirl through songs like a U2 record gone bad. Guitar solos squeal in overarching metal-band style, and front man Ed Kowalczyk's vocals are so overdramatically pained, you can almost feel the veins popping off his neck for the most mundane subject matter. Even the band's use of Eastern influences feels slapped on, as in the intro to the nu-metal disaster "Like a Soldier." The guest appearance by Tricky--a partnership that only Kowalczyk's appearance on the last Tricky album can match in oddity--feels like nothing but a gimmick. What started out as a college rock act has sadly become just another attempt at grandiose sound with invisible substance. --Jennifer Maerz« less
When Live debuted in the mainstream in 1991, the band's earnest alt-rock effort Mental Jewelry balanced high-strung emotions with aggressive guitar work. On the band's fifth album, V, the earnestness has completely disappeared. Everything about this record feels forced and overproduced. Electronic beeps and loops swirl through songs like a U2 record gone bad. Guitar solos squeal in overarching metal-band style, and front man Ed Kowalczyk's vocals are so overdramatically pained, you can almost feel the veins popping off his neck for the most mundane subject matter. Even the band's use of Eastern influences feels slapped on, as in the intro to the nu-metal disaster "Like a Soldier." The guest appearance by Tricky--a partnership that only Kowalczyk's appearance on the last Tricky album can match in oddity--feels like nothing but a gimmick. What started out as a college rock act has sadly become just another attempt at grandiose sound with invisible substance. --Jennifer Maerz
"I got into Live, like many others, because of the strength of 1994's Throwing Copper. I heard "Lightning Crashes" on the radio but was still too young to truly appreciate it, knowing only that there was some aspect of the music which haunted me like a dead ancestor. Some years later I decided to buy Throwing Copper and, for me, that album was an eye-opener to the entire rock genre. Listen after listen, the album seemed more malleable. It seemed to steadily adapt to my growing mental state not because the songs themselves changed, but because my view of them did. They became more dynamic, intriguing, melodic, haunting, and meaningful. Following Throwing Copper I got Secret Samadhi, which introduced me to a sophisticated darkness I didn't know the band possessed. This album, too, attached itself to my conscious and sub-conscious concepts and seemed to change as they did. Mental Jewelry sounded like a time capsule since the band evoked an austere optimism that had not been touched except for groups like REM and U2. When I bought The Distance To Here in 1999, something seemed to have shifted. Kowalczyck's lyrics were optimistic, but not wrought with the same idealistic social change heard on 1989's Mental Jewelry. The songs were enchanting yet also a little diffused of weight and importance. But I quickly overlooked those detrimental factors only now to see that their ugly heads have sprung on V. I do not exaggerate when I say V is a failure because, simply put, it is. The lyrical accuracy Kowalczyck possessed on earlier works seems completely eradicated by an overhauled radio monolith; careful drumming and guitar-playing has been replaced with trite, dead, and empty riffs and mindless busy work; and the entire cd is like a compilation of b-sides from when the group was joking around in the studio. Nothing is of importance here. Instead you get a glimpse of the fading future of rock as the market resurges to dominate every artistic and intellectual nook and cranny. One can't help but roll his/her eyes as Kowalczyck sings ... lines--written in locker rooms, no less--on songs such as "Forever May Not Be Long Enough" and the utterly putrid "Deep Enough," a song which should not belong on anyone's cd, much less Live's. Smashed between the power ballads are soft odes which are just laughable. "Nobody Knows" and "Overcome" expose depressing songwriting attempts which turn a ludicrous album to a saddening one.I'm afraid to say that the potent political, spiritual, and social implications once highlighted in the past have now been replaced by hallmark sermons, faint religious carols, and puerile social observations. The direction taken for this cd is unbelievably negative and leaves any hopes for the future of the group highly dubious.One can only wait now."
LIVE; art and spirit uncompromising and hopeful!
K. A. Turner | Idaho and Washington | 04/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'V', at first entitled 'Ecstatic Fanatic', is a departure for LIVE on the scale if, not the nature, of 'Secret Samadhi's melodic weirdness, though on the complete other end of the sonic spectrum. What ties them together is the ballsiness of such a change of pace, and the wonderfully experimental feel of both; a refusal to bow to the status quo and expectations of the business. Things like a duet with Tricky, an attempt to rap about spiritual love, and wonderful timing a la 'Throwing Copper' (with regard to 'Overcome', anyway) combine to make this an album that at first throws all expectations, and then without warning, begins to grow on you at an exponential rate. If you give it the second and third chance it deserves rather than tossing it aside after the first listen tells you this is FAR different from other LIVE offerings, this could become one of your favourite LIVE albums. Or at least it did for me; I listen to it when I want LIVE--high energy! LOL.
A lot of people (read: critics) slam the band for,(A) having an 'inconsistent recording history', or (B) being from the grunge era.
My rebuttal to (A) is: Too many folk in the music business can't seem to get past the biggest selling album disease; they compare all later efforts to the one that broke the charts. I personally wouldn't have remained a LIVE fan of this degree throughout the years if all they had done was release a 'Throwing Copper' clone every couple of years. I happen to LIKE the fact that LIVE gives the money-driven industry the finger and goes on growing and evolving--and letting their music evolve WITH their lives and ideas--without regard to trying to duplicate the public success of their best known effort. This rather punk ethos (for a solid rock band anyway) is called 'not pandering to the moneymen' and 'artistic integrity over public consumption'. The subsequent albums have sold well, though they haven't had the lucky timing that 'Throwing Copper' had to fit so well into what was happening in popular music at the time. Only jaded critics who care only about numbers would call these modest successes 'failures' only because they weren't 'Throwing Copper's with different covers. Far too many bands and artists have been murdered by their labels forcing or pressuring them to recycle, rerecord, and play the same stuff that won them accolades in their breakthrough efforts, regardless of whether they had since grown or changed; in the process losing that edge of anger or wonder or whatever it was that first captured the public imagination. LIVE has chosen to be comfortable with the fans that 'get' them rather than allowing someone to force them into an artistically stultifying mould for the sake of sales alone; this is called 'not selling out', and for that I applaud them.
As for (B): Though they happened to have emerged into the public eye in the same era as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, et al, LIVE never really fit the grunge model with anything but a tendency to ignore the interview and paparazzi angle of business (ie they refused to [...]themselves out to the media, instead preferring to concentrate on the MUSIC, shocking though that may be!), and a wonderful sort of ambivalent anger at the socio-religious status quo. This anger was the reason many folk loved 'Throwing Copper', and dislike later albums, in which the anger has faded to a message of Hope and Unconditonal Love. If consistent anger without growth is what these folk are looking for, then obviously a band that grows and changes is not for them. And for those who call lead singer Ed Kowalczyk a Kurt Cobain wannabe; they have obviously never listened for a moment to the lyrics and melodic spirit of his songs anyway.
Which brings me to another main criticism of LIVE. Some folk are turned off by the overt spirituality of Ed's lyrics, calling it 'preachy'. Critics also slam LIVE for their lyrics, saying "if we wanted preaching, we'd go to church". But EddieK is not preaching; he neverdoes. What he is doing is sharing the most intimate moments of his life: the moments when the Spirit touched him and made him whole; and in knowing how that feels, how uplifting it is in a moment of confusion, I find these lyrics inspiring.
As a long-term Live fan, I find them life-altering; and in fact, this fourth album, 'Distance to Here', quite literally saved my life. Many I've spoken to feel the same way; for though Live as a band name is hard to 'google', the FriendsofLive are out there and being uplifted daily by the work the band, and EddieK with his lyrics in particular, do. They make the world better just by being in it...and by being willing to SHARE! If communication and understanding can save the world, then Live are right on the avant guarde, with U2, the Indigo Girls, and a few others.
So all I can say for those critical minds who find Live's lyrics 'pretentious and sentimental' and 'drippy softcore preachery'... for them I can feel only pity, for as far as I am concerned, the message of Love is one for everyone, if we can but let it in. If the lyrics don't speak to these people, fine; but they do speak to some of us; so deeply that they bring tears to our eyes. So the fact that these critics are arrogant enough tell everyone they meet not to bother listening long enough to make their own decision/connection (or not) with the music, to me, is a sin. Just because they got nothing out of it, doesn't mean we are all alike...thank God! Yes, we are all different...but Love is Love. Thank you EddieK and Live, for lifting me up."
Where ARE the boys from Live?
The Wickerman | Austin, TX | 10/15/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ed poses the aforementioned question in the song "People Like You", and listening to this album, I had to ask myself the same question, because this sounds nothing like them! I respect trying something new, and Live was always a band to try something new on each album, but this? This is not trying something new, this is selling out! This album is filled with hip hop/techno beats, gansta rap lingo ("back up fool", "keep it real"), and guest vocals from some guy named Tricky (actually, that part's kinda cool). But really, there were times where I thought I was listening to Kid Rock or something! Yes, Ed does try to rap a few times. The weird thing about all this is that Ed seems to hold a degree of disdain for what the mainstream is today. The lyrics to "People Like You" seem to hint at that, and when I went to see them over the summer, he was talking about how there needs to be more good stuff on the radio. I wholeheartedly agree, but most of this album seems to contradict that. They're selling out to the corporate monster they so despise. It's like saying, "I don't like this kind of music, but I want to sell albums, so I'll do it anyway". That's just wrong! Albums like "Throwing Copper" didn't sell albums because they were popular, they sold because they were good, and people who want good music who don't care about trends will respect that. Bottom line, this isn't worth it. "Simple Creed" is a decent single, despite the weird lyrics (puppy scruff?), "Overcome" is a great ballad (but NO WAY is it better than "Lightning Crashes"!), and "Flow" and "The Ride" are okay too, but that's pretty much it. Boys, forget about trying to be on MTV, and make another masterpiece like "Throwing Copper" or "The Distance to Here". Congrats to those who managed to enjoy this, but this new direction ain't workin' for me."
Give the guys a break...please!!!
Shannon | New Jersey, USA | 10/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As diverse as Live's five albums are, is how diverse their fans are. After reading only the first several pages of reviews, I noticed that each of their previous albums were noted as a reviewer's favorite. It makes me wonder then why so many are pining for a 2001 version of "Jewelry", "Copper", "Samadhi", or "The Distance". Live's evolving creativity and artistry are 2 of the main reasons they are one of my favorite bands. How many bad reviews would they get if they kept churning out a new "Jewelry" every two years? If you want to listen to "Copper", then put it in your CD player! But don't knock "V" because it's nothing like the first 4. Sure, "V" has a lot of rap/techno/etc. flavor. The walls between musical styles are not as impermeable as they used to be. Who would have imagined Sting and Stevie Nicks working with Puff Daddy and Destiny's Child? Not me, but it happened! I commend Live for their growth as artists and individuals. I will continue to buy their CD's, and I will continue to listen to each one that came before."
Shannon | 10/05/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As soon as I saw the cd, I said, "Oh yes, it will be mine". But after listening to it a few times, I don't know what to make of it. While I am all for artists expanding their limits, some expansion should have been more thoroughly edited. For the most part I like the album, and in time, maybe I will really get into it. But right now, it is still different. Lyrically, the album doesn't live up to the previous Live standard, but for the most part the lyrics work. The rap stuff is energetic from a musical standpoint, but the genre sets harsh limits on what Kowalczyk is able to do with his superb voice. In fact, the main issue I have with the album is the lack of contrast in the vocals. Instead of the rap expanding his vocal prowess, it simply limited a sound that he has accomplished.For those who were expecting to find the "Throwing Copper" style in this album will not be happy. Every Live album has had a different style, and V is just super different from their earlier work. This album had the potential of being great, and fell flat at good. Lyrically, there is much to be desired, and the album's sound seems to have limited the variations in song sound that existed before. The album has more of a "this is the hip hop sound", this is the "slow sound" rather than the twists that would prevent the pigeon-holing of songs.For people who just get albums for the popular songs, this is not the Live album to get. But if you want to hear an attempt by an established group to incorporate the modern sound, then you might get something out of it. Since I haven't really gotten into the modern pop sound, maybe this album being limited shows me that I am not missing much. Just Live "Pissing in the mainstream" I suppose."