Wednesday, October 10, 2012

HEAP- Live At Arlene's Grocery (Rave On Records, 2008)

Usually, live albums aren't the best way to hear your favorite bands. The cliched "You had to be there!" line is often attached to any description regarding their merits. Generally, I agree with such reasoning. I'd much rather spin KISS' Dressed To Kill or Cheap Trick's In Color (And In Black And White) than subject myself to their respective Alive and Budokan concert clatter. Hell, a lot of the action on the discs was subsequently doctored up in the control room. Gene and Paul even had the chutzpah to include bonafide studio cuts on their "live" records! Make no mistake, I'm not saying that live albums are completely worthless. The "fast" version of Queen's "We Will Rock You" from Live Killers is the only way the song should be played, because it eliminates the annoying "Champions" part that plagues the second half. Yeah, yeah ... you won your Super/Gator/Toilet Bowl. Who gives a turd? Flush it down the pipe with a million other classic-rock crap formations. Don't think Bob Mould has ever heard Husker Du's posthumous The Living End CD, which was released more for Grant Hart and Greg Norton's benefit. I mean, it's an OK collection of Hu Du on various stages, but I haven't held the thing in over eight years. I'm more apt to grab Candy Apple Grey, New Day Rising or Everything Falls Apart. Oops, forgot to mention Land Speed Record. Well, I'll cite it here to reinforce my point concerning live albums. I buried that tuneless piece of tripe under the sands of Bonneville over two decades ago.

Since acquiring them several years back, HEAP's first two releases have been very close friends with my Magnavox CD player. Their fun, energetic, rock 'n' roll chops conjure up the veteran know-how of label mates The Reducers, the "Do the boob!" behavior of The Real Kids and the songwriting smarts of The Replacements. (With all those "Re-" band references, I'm surprised HEAP aren't known as REAP!) The studio slabs are plenty potent, but Live At Arlene's Grocery makes me want to return this review's first sentence for a refund. Recorded in December 2004 amongst their NYC faithful, HEAP deliver fourteen blows that punch just as hard in posterity as on that hot night. In addition to other comments on the fair species, "Women" contains a couplet ("'Cause every aging centerfold/Someone's grandma getting old") that could work as a tribute to the sadly missed Kitty Foxx. Martha Stewart gets chowdered on "Not A Good Thing" ("Filthy-rich, horse-faced queen/I don't read your magazine/Why you're living, I don't know/While I'm changing past your show"). "The Sober Life" examines the back-and-forth between staying straight and being shit-faced ("I'm not often mistaken/For a genius [on] Friday night"). Musical taste and a language barrier prevent one from getting to know the "Puerto Rican Girl" on the train ("The tragedy?/No habla espanol"). "Two Speeds" closes the show and commences the post-game by stating, "We're in the bar drinking. Bye."

The next time Born Loose return to Norfolk, I hope they bring HEAP along for the fun. I'm almost certain the Belmont House Of Smoke has Jameson's in stock.

-Gunther 8544

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