Glen Phillips – Live at
Sound: B+ Music:
Former Toad The Wet Sprocket lead singer Glen Phillips
returns with his second solo album, Live At Largo, recorded October 2,
2002 at the Los Angeles, California club.
His solo debut, Abulum (2001), was impressive enough, but added
an unprecedented 90-minutes of intimate concert footage in the new DVD-Audio
format. That was remarkable for a
format that originally only intended to limit the video so the albums could not
be rented like DVD-Video movies. That
extra material worked so well, here’s another concert work.
Songs on that album like “Train Wreck”, “Back on
My Feet”, “Fred Meyers”, “Drive By”, and “Darkest Hour”
are revisited, along with five Toad tunes, but the remaining seven songs offer
new and more bluntly written materials, as Phillips gets more political than
before. Even the record label is listed
People’s Musical Recording Cooperative/Inhale Music Exhale Entertainment. For being from a band that was not
explicitly so, Phillips seems to be sick of not being heard enough the nice
way, so what does he have to lose?
Especially when he is so exceptionally talented, why not go for it?
Not that this is a political concept album, but it feels
like the kind of reaction to the G.W. Bush era that is making many of our great
artists pare-down and get more explicit in what they have to say, as Annie
Lennox’s new album Bare is currently demonstrating. Between an ugly political environment,
slumping CD sales, and the annoyance of downloading, this is a nightmare time
for music artists throughout the industry that has not caused the shakedown one
would hope for. The kind of shakedown
that would make the bad music drop-off, while artists with something to say
would see a resurgence, but the major record labels keep pushing the garbage,
so you will not hear Phillips on the radio all the time like you deserve
to. And the music industry wonders why
they are in a slump. They can’t keep
using copying and downloading as the sole excuses to hide behind forever.
In the meantime, here is a great concert that runs about
53 minutes long, which makes for a decent set.
Highlights of the newer (other) material include “Thankful”,
Randy Newman’s “Political Science”, the odd “Greer Zoller”, and “Small
Dark Movies”. It should be noted
that the last three titles are the last three full tracks of music here,
showing that Phillips knows how to conclude a set.
This leaves the sound quality, which is good and what you
would expect from a modern analog concert recording. He can be well heard, and the music is about as clear as
16bits/44.1 kHz on a CD is going to get.
This begs the question about how it compares to his DVD-Audio. Well, that was only available with Dolby
Digital 5.1, with no DTS since it is one of the most music-crammed single discs
issued in the format yet. That Dolby
was good considering the simple means in which the live portions of the disc
was recorded, but the MLP and Dolby for the studio tracks are still the best
Phillips has ever sounded on a playback format. Whenever Sony Music gets around to issuing a complete DVD of all
the band’s music videos (hopefully more than the seven clips previously issued
on VHS) that will not be in DTS either.
With that said, this is just fine for a current CD.
Phillips continues to stick with his artistic, honest path
and has yet to sell out. He is a talent
yet to get the recognition he deserves, but Live At Largo can only help
that situation as one of the best singer/songwriters in the business.
- Nicholas Sheffo