""Alive at Last" embodies everything Train represents as a band. It's marvelous musically, vocally, has a great crowd, and it's mastered beautifully.
"Alive at Last" (perhaps titled after the song on the band's most recent studio release "I'm About to Come Alive"), was recorded in Birmingham, Alabama, at a relatively small club. The crowd on this disc sounds HUGE. This may annoy some listeners, but for anyone who has had the privilege of seeing this band live, they'll know it is a true representation of the high energy felt through an entire concert.
The disc opens with the recent top-ten single, "Calling All Angels." If you're sick of hearing it on the radio, you're going to love this version. Lead singer Pat Monahan makes his way through the song with wonderful power, and the band (along with the crowd) backs him up all the way. And this is true for all of the tracks. Train infuses new life into every song, and Monahan's varied vocals are a treat to hear.
The band was truly ON the evenings this set was recorded. They sound tight, with nary a missed note. New addition Brandon Bush on the keys is amazing, be listening for his raw talent. This disc is great. I was very pleased with the quality of the sound as well. For a live album, you can really appreciate the band's talent. Train's reputation as a live band shines, as much of their singles perhaps sound better here than on the original discs. Guitarist Jimmy Stafford professed on Train's website (www.trainline.com) that no layers were added to this recording, everything you hear is live. Listen to this disc with that in mind. It's incredible.
The lesser-known "Landmine" is beyond gorgeous, the cd is worth buying if only for this song. "Sweet Rain," an old-time Train track, flows really well, and "Stay With Me," the only cover of the set, sounds great, with Train once again showing off their musicianship. The weakest song is probably "I Wish You Would," but it still sounds great.
The two studio tracks are written by Monahan and Bart Hendrickson. "Ordinary" is the summer song from "Spider-Man 2," and "New Sensation" is a brand-new Train song. No, it's not a cover, it's an original. Though it sounds a tad overproduced at times, it's growing on me, and it's a new step for Train.
In fact, "New Sensation" could be something of an anthem for the band that's been around for ten years: "I ain't no new sensation, no, but I'm better than I've ever been."
If you aren't a Train fan but you've heard "Drops of Jupiter," "Calling All Angels," "When I Look to the Sky," or any of their other singles and you've thought they were pretty good, pick this disc up. It's a great band having a lot of fun with a crowd that is obviously into them.
The disc is wonderful for Trainiacs and non-Trainiacs alike. Buy it. Now."
"I'm in a really good mood tonight!"
John Vester | Indianapolis, Indiana USA | 11/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to tell you, it takes a lot of guts to open your set with the following three songs: "Calling All Angels," "She's On Fire" and "Meet Virginia." I mean, one would think you are setting yourself up for a flat night as the rest of the set unfolds. But Pat and the gang knew exactly what they were doing when they put together this album. It is simply incredible and a MUST BUY for any Train fan.
I enjoy live albums quite a bit and have reviewed several here on Amazon.com over the years. This album is by far the best mixed, most energetic live album I have ever heard. In fact, I have always been scared to see Train live, because of the fear of being let down by the songs sounding stale or empty. That is not the case whatsoever as this album is pure magic.
Even compared to other live Train tracks (sorry for the pun) I've heard, this album was still a big surprise. I had heard several live versions of Meet Virginia and was even thinking about skipping ahead to the next track on this album, but the mix on this album is so incredible and a few things they change near the end of the song is great! So, listen to the whole track and be surprised what you hear the band do.
Even Pat's voice sounds superb on this album! It's classic when he says "I'm in a really good mood tonight!" just before track four.
In my opinion, Pat has to be the best male rock singer in quite a while, if not ever! I mean, find tracks of him singing covers of "Ramble On" or "Dream On" and you will hear a voice that can really do anything. So a guy who can do Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin and actually sound just as good - if not better than the original artists is really something - plus he writes his own stuff!
Take a shot at this album and I am certain you will be glad you bought it!!!
Thanks for reading my review! jv "
Great disc, but...
Tito | Chicago, IL | 11/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an awesome representation of the band's ability to play immaculately w/o overmixing, overdubbing, and all the studio tricks. I've seen them live 4 times, both in smaller venues and arena-style, and they're consistently solid.
The selection of songs is good, too. The most glaring ommission is their version of Zep's "Ramble On" -- which seems to be a staple, as they played it at all 4 shows I've seen. [Probably a licensing issue.]
Okay, here's why I didn't give it 5 stars: the crowd noise is a bit too much at points. Not the overall level necessarily (and I agree with the other reviewer who says this captures the energy at their shows), but specifically the what seems like drunk chicks who can't help themselves from yelling. All the "Whoo"s probably wouldn't bother me if I were there at the show, but it's almost as if they put a mic on their table or something. And there's a song where you can hear a guy yelling a few lines into it, too. Listening to it -- especially with headphones on -- I kinda felt like the only sober guy at the show.
I guess to put a positive spin on it, it has the feel of a digitally remastered bootleg album.
Oh, there are a few "sing-a-longs," too.
The disc is worth getting, especially if you're a fan. But if this kinda thing annoys you, you might not wanna pick it up. Or listen to it first, maybe...
Or do what I've decided to do from now on: always have a few drinks before listening to it. "Whoo!""
"Recorded at a live club show in Birmingham, Alabama, Train's Alive at Last is a guilty pleasure - it sounds really, really good, and as a live album it probably has a good a crowd presence as I've heard, comparable to Ben Folds Five's Naked Baby Photos. Songs like "Calling all Angels" and "She's on Fire" are just absolutely crackling - the instrumentation is flawless, the emotion is all there and the disc actually generates a certain degree of excitement.
Yeah, yeah, Train may be just another mainstream rock band, and they might write simplistic lyrics, for sure. However, if your ear is tuned towards catchy, good songs, you'll probably be converted (just as I was). I can't handle "Meet Virginia" - it sounds too much like that stupid Nine Days song about the story of the girl - but there is something undeniable infectious about this record, something that makes you just yield to fun, no matter how jaded and dyed-black you think you are. "New Sensation" and "Drops of Jupiter" are ear-pleasing and fun, not to mention well-recorded.
Live albums are just greatest hits albums in disguise, and this one provides an excellent introduction to a band that does its damndest to get stuck in your head. Some of the songs fall into lulls; I'm not saying that they're auteurs on the scale of the Beatles, but I am saying that they're fun to listen to and this album is worth giving a shot. "
J. Kuo | New Jersey | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first Train CD that I bought because a friend recommended it. I didn't have high hopes because I really only knew Train through their over played radio hits. Boy- was I wrong!
This is one of my favorite Live cd's PLUS it made me go out and buy their other 3 albums. I haven't stopped listening to Train since. They are my new favorite band, and I can't wait for them to start touring. From what I've heard from friends and from what I can hear on the album, they are INCREDIBLE live! Pat has an amazing voice and the band really rocks. They sound like they genuinely love playing music together and that's the beauty of it- you can really hear their unity as a band and Pat sings each one of those lyrics like he really means what he's saying.
All time favorite track on this album is LANDMINE! Just incredible- blows me away every time I hear it.
Also good- When I Look To The Sky, She's on Fire, Save the day... every track is great!
If you are a newcomer to Train (as I once was), I'm telling you now- buy this CD and then get the rest of their albums. Train rocks!"