In a perfect journalistic world, every review is either an unabashed rave about a life-defining record or a scathing pan, solidifying [insert band/album] as [insert hyperbolic insult]. That’s how we want it – that’s how I want it, anyway – black and white. Challenge me, that’s fine, that’s encouraged, but make it either good or bad, please.
But, such is rarely the case. As anyone who’s more than just a casual listener of music knows, records are rarely either astounding or disgusting; usually they’re somewhere in-between. Such is the case with the new live set from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The two-DVD, one-CD package is culled from the band’s performances in Berlin, Dublin, and Glasgow from their 2007 tour in support of Baby 81. While songs like the pulsating “Weapon of Choice” (from Baby 81) and the smoldering “Mercy” (an outtake from the fantastic Howl) capture a warts-and-all rock ‘n’ roll band shedding pretense to simply play, the record gets bogged down by the likes of “Dirty Old Town” (they played it because they were in Ireland, get it?!) and “Six Barrel Shotgun” (among several terribly-titled songs in the BRMC catalogue).
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Live is not a great record, but is by no stretch of the imagination an awful record. For the BRMC completest, it’s a very nicely packaged document of the band on tour, but for the casual fan, it likely won’t warrant more than a few cursory listens, serving mostly as a reminder that you haven’t put Howl on the turntable in too long.