Friday, July 19, 2019

Live – Throwing Copper [25th Anniversary Reissue] (Album Review)

As someone who heavily traffics in milestone releases and reissues, I was incredibly surprised by the creative care and level of attention paid to the 2LP/2CD Super Deluxe edition celebrating Live’s 1994 multi-platinum album Throwing Copper. While the album itself certainly achieved enough success to warrant a reissue (8x Platinum, four Top 10 singles, #1 on the Billboard 200), the York, PA quartet went the extra mile by a including a stunning 12-page booklet, three bonus tracks, and a recording of their previously unreleased nine-song set from Woodstock ’94 – all housed in a weighty, thick-spine gatefold packaging that truly highlights the memorable Sisters of Mercy cover art from Scottish painter Peter Howson.      

There’s no denying that Throwing Copper was one of the most celebrated albums of the 1990s. In early 1994, lead single “Selling the Drama” came out a few months ahead of the album and it immediately became an alt-rock radio staple, eventually hitting #1 on Billboard‘s Modern Rock chart. Its moody music video (featuring a “not for very long” long-haired Ed Kowalczyk) established the band’s oft-returning presence on MTV for the next couple of years. For all of 1994 and into 1995, the formula was successfully repeated every couple of months with a new single that unrolled the diverse layers of Live’s cinematic songwriting. The big pop chorus of “I Alone,” the emotive balladeering of “Lightning Crashes,” and the explosive punch of “All Over You” all became Top 10 singles, with each one spawning its own quasi-spiritual music video. The jammy, bass-led “White, Discussion” was put out as a fifth single almost a year after the album was first released, but it stalled around #15 on the charts and didn’t turn get a video of its own. Live was so ubiquitous on alt-rock radio in 1994 that DJs would sometimes tire of the hit singles and play some of the other album tracks like “Iris” and T.B.D.” as well.

While Throwing Copper is notable for being one of the earliest standouts of the post-grunge era, the band was able to solidify their successes through some memorable live performances – especially their fantastic on Saturday Night Live, their mesmerizing MTV Unplugged episode (sidenote: how does this not have a standalone release?!?), and their blistering set at Woodstock ’94. The latter performance has never been officially released by the band until now, as it encompasses the entirety of the second CD of this reissue. Their bombastic Woodstock ’94 set includes seven songs from Throwing Copper and two tracks – “The Beauty of Gray” and “Operation Spirit” – from their debut album Mental Jewelry. It really showcases Live’s talents as a live band, especially with Kowalczyk’s whisper-to-a-shriek vocals and their true secret weapon, the slick complexity of Patrick Dahlheimer’s bass lines. While I would’ve loved to see their MTV Unplugged tracks (or maybe even a DVD of the performance) included in this reissue, their Woodstock ’94 performance is an incredibly welcomed addition to the proper album.           

The original vinyl release of Throwing Copper cut out the songs “Pillar of Davidson” and secret track “Horse” so that it could be pressed on a single disc, so it’s really nice to see the album presented across two discs for this reissue. “Pillar of Davidson” and “Horse” have been restored back into the tracklist and three additional bonus tracks were added to Side D: “Hold Me Up,” “We Deal in Dreams,” and “Susquehanna.” The 12-page vinyl-sized booklet contains an enlightening interview with the band framed around a timeline of everything that happened with the band through 1994-1995. While it's really cool to finally have such a solid, two-disc vinyl pressing of the album, it's the impressive extras - the bonus tracks, the Woodstock '94 set, the 12-page booklet, and the gorgeously weighty packaging - that really make this one of the more standout anniversary vinyl reissues that has come out in the last few years. 

The Super Deluxe 25th anniversary reissue of Throwing Copper (as well as the single CD and deluxe digital album versions) can be purchased here:  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this great review. Keep up the great work. Live is my favorite band. Always nice to see them get some positive attention.