Not since the Ramones has a punk band released as comprehensive a live album as the Bouncing Souls have done here with Live.
(Insert "You moron, you forgot about _____!" here.)
The Bouncing Souls and me, we have a special relationship. The first punk show I ever went to, Face to Face circa 1995, was a landmark in my cultural upbringing. Along with them on that tour were the Bouncing Souls, who were touring in support of The Good, the Bad, and the Argyle. I was instantly hooked on the youthful exuberance in songs like "I Like Your Mom," and "Joe Lies (When He Cries)." They were fun, they were young, and they sang about more than girls. Paired with Face to Face's more mature, reflective nature made for an evening I'll never forget.
Fast forward to this afternoon. I've still got every Bouncing Souls release sitting on my CD shelf and they find their way into my stereo on quite a regular basis. As I've matured and expanded in my musical taste, many of the bands I listened to ten years ago have lost their relevance to me. The Bouncing Souls though, they've strengthened their importance in my life.
At their worst, the Bouncing Souls can be slightly immature. But at their best they are unparalleled in energy that screams about everything good about life: Close friends, close family, and keeping a positive outlook. They may not cover huge issues, but they constantly remind us that through tough times it's important to remember that good times lay ahead. Some might call it naļve optimism -- I call it reassuring.
Live captures the Bouncing Souls doing what they do best: Playing in front of a crowd eager to sing along. The 29-song set serves as a lengthy retrospective of the band's career. Only two songs appear off the band's debut full-length (those being "I Like Your Mom" and "Joe Lies"). However, half of 1995's Maniacal Laughter shows up, as do the bulk of the band's best known songs, including "True Believers," "Punx in Vegas," "Kate Is Great," and "Hopeless Romantic" amongst others.
Fans of the Bouncing Souls are sure to find some personal favorites missing. I would have liked to have seen "Neurotic" and "Bulling the Jukebox," but with the song selection presented it's never too long before another favorite starts up.
With 29 songs, the Souls play a longer than normal set, and they're one of the last punk bands I expected to release a double album anytime soon. Then again, last year's Do You Remember DVD showed us that they are able to dig deep and come up with a load of material. Live isn't as extensive as Do You Remember, but for a live show it's a long one.
It's not surprising that most of the songs on Live are played faster than their studio counterparts. But the Souls have always considered themselves a live band and the songs feel right at the pace things go. The production is solid, with a good mix of clarity and atmosphere.
The Bouncing Souls aren't done making music, but Live is a fantastic listen at what they've accomplished this far.