Band: Black Lips
Label: Third Man Records
1. “Family Tree” (Arabia Mountain)
2. “Stuck In My Mind” (7″)
3. “O Katrina” (Good Bad Not Evil)
4. “Make It” (7″)
5. “Lock and Key” (Good Bad Not Evil)
6. “Modern Art” (Arabia Mountain)
1. “I Saw A Ghost (Lean) (Good Bad Not Evil)
2. “You Must Be A Witch” (Cover)
3. “Fad” (Black Lips!)
4. “Dumpster Dive” (Arabia Mountain)
5. “Drugs” (200 Million Thousand)
6. “I Got A Knife” (Black Lips!)
7. “Bow Down and Die” (Almighty Defenders)
Comments: Here we are at last, another Black Lips live album! Fear not all ye doubters, this one is the real deal! There are no promotional clips that try to sync audio with visuals, but rest assured – this event was recorded live to tape at Third Man Studios on a nice June 11th 2012 evening. So if you can insinuate what I am alluding to, good for you. For others, the Black Lips tried their hand at a live album a half decade back. The result was Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo, a helluva record that really brings to life some of the best cuts on Let It Bloom and We Did Not all while maintaining the live energy of one of the best, if not THEE best rock and roll bands the 21st century has been blessed with. Well, live wasn’t live, at least by the traditional definition; a show did occur in Tijuana, some sounds from the show were captured and can be heard (you can’t fake a Mariachi band, can ya?), but a good deal was the result of some ole fashion studio trickery. This according to Cole Alexander himself. Either way, I argue it does not matter one bit. That album is my favorite.
Onto Live @ Thirdman. First things first, the record sounds GREAT. It doesn’t pretend to be a by-the-books Black Lips experience, but it does do a naturally amazing job at becoming one. The stage banter is priceless and genuine – Ian mentions Coors Light and after parties, Cole is random (“fuck me slowly”, “there’s nothing to fear from reading a book!”), and Jared warns against the consumption of fried foods.
The choice of tracks is interesting and fairly sensible, if not down right surprising in some spots. The Lips steer clear of their In The Red material, opting for a barrage of cuts ranging from their very early stuff (“Stuck In My Mind,” “Fad,” I Got A Knife”) to some Good Bad Not Evil staples (“O Katrina,” “I Saw A Ghost”), an inkling of 200 Million Thousand (“Drugs”), and finally some Arabia Mountain classics. For fans of all ages and time periods, Live @ Thirdman showcases in one sitting more of the complexities behind the band’s songwriting. If ya haven’t noticed, the Lips aren’t all about sweeping mosh inciting garage punk. This is where the principal contrast with Los Valientes is at. The Black Lips early stuff sounds just as good now as it did ten years ago and I’d like to say that’s a testament to their aptitude at crafting a keen dirty melody. A tune like “I Saw A Ghost (Lean)” is probably one of the band’s most spirited attempts at going beyond the traditional BL framework and extending it into a three plus minute jam of epic proportions.
The Lips aren’t afraid to reveal their roots, either. They throw in a cover of The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be A Witch,” famously released on the Pebbles garage/psych compilation of ’60s rarities. I absolutely love the inclusion of “Fad,” which has probably been performed by the band live less than a dozen times in the past few years. One of those times was April 2011 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island at the request of me to Jared. Cole dedicates “Dumpster Diving” to the gospel/country duo of Bill Anderson and Brenda Lee. Another surprise is “I Got A Knife,” which embodies the multiple vocal simplicity that dominated those old recordings (“we wrote this before we knew what a guitar solo was”). Finally, the band ends with a cover of their own song as Almighty Defenders – “Bow Down and Die”. This track has been a closing staple in their live performances for a couple of years now. A great sing-a-long to end things as only Black Lips know best.
Live @ Third Man is a record to put on when you want to sit down and appreciate a genius band. Whereas Los Valientes has you front and center in the pit, Live @ Third Man places you back stage behind the band. You aren’t being continuously thrown around. You are admiring and dancing at your own rate. Pick this essential up!