Feedback: Live Shows: FOB and Rx Bandits
April 24th, 2008 by Dan

So I was wandering through Best Buy last week, as I am want to do, and I noticed that Fall Out Boy released a new album: Live in Phoenix. Back in the day I used to hate live albums. The sound quality was always a bit diminished and the songs were slightly different, musically, with different tempos, lyrics, and sometimes flourishes. They lacked the studio polish and effects and just sounded raw. Then I started going to concerts. My first real one was Five Iron Frenzy’s Winners Never Quit tour, which was just amazing. I remember hearing “The Medley of Power Ballads and Bad Taste” live and being just totally blown away. If this type of thing could happen at a concert, then it’s possible that other live CDs could have more than just songs that were on studio albums. Live album love was born for me and, to this day, I treasure my live albums by Ben Folds, FIF, and other odd live recordings here or there.

Even so, I’m still wary of these live albums. I’ve been burned by mediocre live albums in the past (I had to hate them for a reason, right?), so when I saw the FOB CD, I mosied on over to Borders to listen to previews of the album tracks. The first bunch failed to impress, I didn’t recognize one track, so I skipped it (more on this mistake later), but the tail end of the album seemed to be really neat, so I headed back over to Best Buy and bought the much more reasonably priced Live at Phoenix.

Once I copied the disk to my Linux computer and booted up the CD I was pleasantly…disappointed. The album just doesn’t sound good at all. FOB is not a band that translates well to the live medium. There are some pretty sweet parts in the tail end of the album, after “Beat It,” but the rest is pretty ho-hum. Worse…it sounds awful through my computer’s speakers. The lead’s voice just doesn’t sound good. The CD is actually much better through headphones, strangely enough.

Supposedly the CD is a sound recording of a live concert, with the DVD included and all, but this is where things get strange. Track 9, “Beat It,” is a studio recording. The concert CD has decent pacing, you’re into it, and then you’re thrown into a bonus track. Wikipedia’s got “Beat It” as a track too, so maybe it was a music video and not live? In any case, “Beat It,” a cover of the Michael Jackson hit, is amazing! FOB is just perfect for this cover. The tail end of this album, from about “Beat It” onwards, is worth the purchase, but that means that more than half of the 15 track album is just mediocre.

My recommendation: Unless you’re a diehard FOB fan, pass it up. Definitely try to get “Beat It” on its own from either iTunes or Amazon or something, it’s a great cover.

I’ve had …And the Battle Begun by Rx Bandits for quite some time, but had yet to really give it some serious listens. Once I had, I found a really deep and awesome album that just floors me whenever I hear its standout tracks. This led me to check out their wikipedia page and realize they had a live album out. Now, my friend Boz has often cited the opinions of his friends that the Bandits are just too long-winded with instrumentals in their concert. I can totally get where they’re coming from, since they are a former ska-band-turned-progressive-rock, so ska fans might not know what to think of music that clearly features an amazing horn section, but is not like ska or reggae or anything they’ve ever heard, really. I lamented that the album, Live at Bonnaroo (an amazing venue, I may go this year), was only available at iTunes (I HATE DRM!), but I relented and purchased the album anyway. Let me just say that RxB is amazing live. I’m going to have to seriously pay attention to when they’re in town and attend a show.

There are so many good tracks on this album, there’s no point in going through and highlighting the ones that are great, cause I’d just end up writing all 11 track names in a sequential list. My recommendation, listen to the Bandit’s other CDs, namely The Resignation and …And the Battle Begun, and buy this album from iTunes if you like that other music.

6 Responses  
  • Eric writes:
    April 25th, 20089:09at

    The record companies have quickly realized their folly in allowing us to buy single tracks. Suddenly people aren’t buying the whole album; even in cases where Amazon makes it irresistible by offing individual tracks for $15 and the whole album for $8. So now they’re making certain tracks available only if you buy the whole album. Grrr….. I wonder if “Beat It” would be one of those….

    If your readers like cover songs and FOB, P!ATD and others, check out the 2 Disc Edition of the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas.

    Also, I didn’t know you were an FOB fan!

  • Dan writes:
    April 26th, 20089:12at

    Yeah dude, I’m a huge FOB fan.

    I don’t mind so much about the single track thing, just because I tend to enjoy owning the whole album, but I know that other people aren’t like me, you’re right.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard or seen their newest album, but P!ATD is, at least for this next album PATD now.

  • I Bring Nothing to the Table » Blog Archive » Feedback: Rx Bandits writes:
    June 24th, 20080:12at

    […] may recall a post back in the day where I lauded the amazing Live from Bonnaroo 2007 album by Rx Bandits. It only […]

  • Eric Mesa writes:
    February 25th, 201010:58at

    As far as it sounding better with headphones, similar to the conversation we’ve had with people optimizing their sites for iPhones, there has been a lot of talk of people saying that most people listen to their music on their iPod instead of stereos, so they’re optimizing for MP3 translation. This leads to flatter songs and just gives more fuel to the Vinyl is better crowd.

    • Dan writes:
      February 25th, 201011:03at

      Bleh…you should never aim for flatter songs. Full songs ftw! I’d need to read a technical document to fully understand why they’ve got to make music flatter for it to be better on mp3s.

      • Eric Mesa writes:
        February 25th, 201011:10at

        I think it has to do with the specific algorithm used to compress the MP3s. It’s a little long in the tooth, it’s just more established. Technically MP4, or, as Apple calls it, AAC, has a better algorithm. Ogg Vorbis also, I think, has a similar algorithm to MP4. The other thing that would help (but AGAIN we have to maintain compatibility with older devices) is variable bit rates. Most modern MP3 decoders support this and it allows the file to have a much fuller sound without being as large as a FLAC file. But Amazon wouldn’t want to sell an MP3 that didn’t work on older devices computers. (Although, technically that last sentence is without research – maybe amazon DOES release variable bit rate MP3s)

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