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Melvins - Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust

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Artist: Melvins

Album: Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust

Label: Ipecac

Review date: Jun. 3, 2006

Both Ipecac and Melvins have a history of curio style releases, which makes this LP an accident waiting to happen. Born of the All Tomorrows Parties Donít Look Back Ďdo an LP liveí series, this lacks the sweat and pep of a live show. Amusing liner notes donít make up for the effortís pointlessness.

The argument over what a live album is for and what it should do continues to be a hugely subjective one. For Melvins fans, this is another representation of the bandís best work; a record touched by the hand of Saint Kurt Cobain of junksville and their major label debut. For casual fans of Buzzís ability to spit out riffs like a sausage factory conveyor belt, itís a poor toothless cousin to the original Houdini.

For long stretches itís impossible to even tell itís even being played live. Some could take that as a sign that the band kick mucho ass, being able to walk it note for note like they talk it. Iím in the camp thatís heard Houdini and doesnít see the need for a copy thatís dips in both the energy and production stakes. Houdini Live 2005 is suffering from mild malnutrition; something is missing. The original still leaves 13 aural dinosaur footprints of steel, flesh, wood and bellowing all the way from 1993. These takes arenít totally incompetent, just unnecessary and lapping in sap. The only time Melvins have really ever fucked up their own songs is with Lustmordís help on Pigs of the Roman Empire. Itís the subtle differences here that make all the difference on this version. On the real Houdini, Dale Croverís showcase ďSpread Eagle BeagleĒ is an angry riposte to progís pot bellied solos; here, itís just prog. Buzzís riffs donít seem as fiery, plagues donít follow in the wake of his voice and he sounds like heís wearing a side parting as opposed to the infamous afro.

Thereís no need to get excited at FantŰmasí Trevor Dunn standing in for long-since-deposed bassist Lorax Black; the difference is negligible. Dunn is not doing Dunn, heís doing impressions. This is a memento of a great idea but a poor reminder of a series of shows that was probably as furiously focused and hairy backed as a matador-fed bull. In a direct taste test comparison, this CD sounds pasteurized and as floppy as grilled vinyl. A bit of left and right latitude, a bit of amphetamine pep wouldnít have gone amiss for a band normally so keen to take convention from behind. Iíll stick with what Iíve got, thanks.

By Scott McKeating

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