Siouxsie and the Banshees – Nocturne

Nocturne live albums1983 Geffen Records

I can still remember getting this album as a senior in high school at Paradise Records and Tapes in Baton Rouge, LA just off the LSU campus.  Paradise isn’t there any more, but man do I have a lot of great memories of that place, from going in every Tuesday to check out the new releases (mainly metal) to store owner (and all ’round good dude) Sam Irwin tolerating me playing some metal albums on the store sound system when I worked there.

This album is my very first memory from there and I still laugh when I think about it.  Being a metalhead and rockhead, I was more than unfamiliar with Siouxsie and the Banshees other than their name at that time.  When I walked in the store, I heard a song playing that sounded to me like a live Robert Plant recording and asked the store clerk if that was a new Robert Plant live album.


The fact that she didn’t laugh hysterically at the question is a minor miracle, but hey I was a senior in high school and wasn’t well versed in very much music outside of my beloved heavy metal and classic rock.  And she was quite pretty…I believe her name was Eileen Vicknair…and she was very nice when she told me that it wasn’t Robert Plant, but rather a woman named Siouxsie Sioux.  For the life of me, when I listen to the album today I don’t know how the hell I thought it was Robert Plant singing.

The song was Night Shift and the album was Nocturne, their double live album.   It wasn’t until several years later that I could begin to appreciate the album as a whole rather than just a handful of songs.  With each passing year it sounds better and better and I have to rate it as one of my favorite live albums of all time.   Very few live recordings can create a mood the way this one does.  Absolutely engaging and at times spine chilling.

This is Siouxsie and the Banshees at their goth best, all songs sounding better with a totally committed live treatment.  Drummer Budgie steals the show at times (especially on the concert video) with his adroit and ambidextrious creation of rhythm, while Robert Smith of the Cure uses his guitar for color, shade, texture and overall mood.  A bass, drums, guitar trio of sound unlike much of what you’ve ever heard, this is pure classic from opener Israel to Melt!, Painted Bird, Cascade, Sin In My Heart, the aforementioned Night Shift…I could name them all.  Even more cool is the inclusion of Pulled to Bits, a track which is actually debuted here live.  Why don’t bands do that anymore?

If you want a live album that actually takes you somewhere and makes the mood real, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than this.  Criminally overlooked and vital listening!

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Download Nocturne here

Buy Nocturne CD here

Clutch – Live in Flint, MI & Live in Melbourne, AU

2004 River Road Records              2007

I recently came across these gems from my favorite band online and I’m just stunned.  Though I should have known they would be excellent.

Both discs are worth seeking out if you’re a Clutch fan.  Being a proud veteran of numerous shows, I can confidently say they’re both fine documents of Clutch live and up close, and “Heard It All Before” is kinda special due to the fact that our fave Maryland boys recorded it live on their first Australian tour.

One of the discs, however, stands out as absolutely one of my favorite live albums of all time, and that’s Live In Flint, MI.  Recorded live at the Machine Shop in front of a rabid crowd, it documents a two hour show from the “Blast Tyrant” tour and features material from all their albums, as well as some cool B-sides like “Hoodoo Operator.”

The surprising highlights for me, though, were the tunes from the self-titled “Clutch” CD from 1995.  I was originally not a huge fan of that disc, due to what I feel is a powerless drum mix that doesn’t do Jean-Paul “The Master” Gaster justice, and really an overall mix that lacks power and crispness.  With said power and crispness, those tracks are my overall favorites here, with “Rock and Roll Outlaw” just leveling the place and “Tight Like That” translating well to a heavier live format and providing the perfect chaser for “…Outlaw.”   “Escape From the Prison Planet” and “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth” show up in powerful form here, as do “Big News I” and “Big News II.”

Honorable mention goes to “Walking in the Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks” and exemplify how well the inimitable Neil Fallon is able to make these older tracks work with his newer vocal stylings, as they were recorded with his old monotone growl on the studio versions.  The more modern Clutch tunes from “Elephant Riders” through “Blast Tyrant” sound as excellent as you would hope, too.

I’ve flown many, many times to and from Louisiana to spend time with my children and I can’t tell you how many times this has been my music of choice to get my mind off of my fear of flying.  Dozens easily.  One of those few live documents that actually makes you feel like you’re a part of the celebration not apart from the celebration.  The proudly face-melting mix makes you feel like you’re right there…you can almost smell the sweat.

For Clutch fans, this is a must have.  For the uninitiated, “Live in Flint, MI” is a great introduction to a superb rock band and will undoubtedly have you hungry for their back catalogue.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5