Live – Awake: The Best of Live

Artist: Live
Title: Awake: The Best of Live
Label: Radioactive
Rating: 6/10

CORPORATE LINE: Awake, The Best of LIVE, a deluxe 19-song compilation CD spanning the entire 13-year recording history of the acclaimed rock band from York, Pennsylvania. The package also includes a DVD containing 22 music videos going back to the band’s 1991 debut.

“We Deal in Dreams,” a previously-unreleased track from LIVE’s 1994 Throwing Copper. Songs on Awake, the Best of LIVE were culled from every LIVE album, including 1991’s platinum Mental Jewelry, the multi-platinum #1 smash Throwing Copper (1994), the #1 multi-platinum Secret Samadhi (1997), the multi-platinum The Distance to Here (1999), V (2001) and Birds of Pray (2003). Tracks included are: “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny Of Tradition),” “Pain Lies On The Riverside,” “The Beauty Of Gray,” “Selling The Drama,” “I Alone,” “Lightning Crashes,” “All Over You,” “Pillar Of Davidson,” “We Deal In Dreams,” “Lakini’s Juice,” “Turn My Head,” “The Dolphin’s Cry,” “Run To The Water,” “Dance With You,” “Overcome,” “Nobody Knows,” “Heaven,” a previously un-released on CD duet version of “Run Away” with Shelby Lynne and a cover of the Johnny Cash tune “I Walk the Line.”

The bonus DVD boasts a comprehensive representation of LIVE’s history on video. It includes 22 videos along with a 30 minute interview commentary from Kowalczyk. Videos included are: “Pain Lies on the Riverside,” “Pain Lies On The Riverside (live performance),” “Operation Spirit,” “Operation Spirit” (live performance), “Selling the Drama,” “I Alone,” “Lightning Crashes,” “White, Discussion,” “Lakini’s Juice,” “Freaks,” “Turn My Head” (from director Jake Scott), “Turn My Head” (from director Mary Lambert), “The Dolphin’s Cry,” “Run to the Water,” “They Stood Up For Love,” “Overcome, “Simple Creed,” “Like a Soldier,” “Heaven” and “Heaven” (concept version). The DVD also contains two never-before-seen videos: “Ghost,” and “Run Away” (with Shelby Lynne).

Ed Kowalczyk and his band mates guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer, and drummer Chad Gracey, first performed together over 17 years ago at their middle school talent show in York, PA. Now at the tender age of 32, with over 20 million albums sold, LIVE continue to be a major musical force. Their success includes two #1 albums on the Billboard Top 200 album chart (Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi), five No. 1 singles, nine Top 10 singles, and No. 1 albums in Australia, Holland, South Africa, Canada, Belgium and New Zealand.

Everything from Throwing Copper is great. This was perhaps a once in a lifetime record that took a band out of the garage and into the spotlight. Songs like “Selling the Drama,” “I Alone,” and the spectacular “Lightening Crashes” might be worth the purchase alone—although it might be more useful to take your cash and buy the album Throwing Copper.

We could expound on how “Lightening Crashes” is one of the great rock classics—a masterpiece, but then we’d be missing the bigger picture—the 18 other tracks that make up this best of. “Pillar Of Davidson” gets a hack-job as a few minutes are cut off.

“We Deal In Dreams” is okay—added for the diehard Live fans who wouldn’t buy this record otherwise. “Lakini’s Juice” is not all that fantastic. It’s hard to live up to the four great songs that have come right before it. “The Dolphin’s Cry” changes the downward spiral. It is a poignant and soulful song that never escapes you.

FRANKLY: It’s never a good thing to put together a greatest hits record in chronological order unless the group is the Beatles. Live has hits and misses that could have been hidden between the truly great songs—the early songs aren’t great by any means. The cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” is better than most of the “best of.” Awake is a nice record—but not impressive considering how good Live really can be—too bad some great songs were left off.

+ Rae Gun

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