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The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage [CD/DVD] (Cover Artwork)

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady: A Positive Rage [CD/DVD]A Positive Rage [CD/DVD] (2009)
Vagrant Records

Reviewer Rating: 2.5


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Talk about a bait-n-switch: The main drawing power behind A Positive Rage, the new live CD/DVD documenting the exploits of the joyful noisemakers in the Hold Steady circa 2006, should be the tour documentary. Generally speaking, live albums tend to be geared towards hardcore fans to begin with, eith.
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Talk about a bait-n-switch: The main drawing power behind A Positive Rage, the new live CD/DVD documenting the exploits of the joyful noisemakers in the Hold Steady circa 2006, should be the tour documentary. Generally speaking, live albums tend to be geared towards hardcore fans to begin with, either because of nostalgia (my mom was at the taping of David Bowie's David Live; I was at tapings for Bouncing Souls and the Early November) or rarities. Sure, some artists like Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen and James Brown cut legendary live albums, but most of the time the buyer ends up with tinny-sounding versions of previously released / better recorded songs. And while the CD portion of A Positive Rage isn't as good as Live at the Apollo or as bad as, say, any live Aerosmith record ever, it's still not transcendent enough to warrant purchasing. That's why the DVD portion needs to be great. What it ends up being is repetitive and mildly hammy.

There's showing and there's telling, and A Positive Rage does a whole lot of the latter. Spliced between genuinely good live footage are discussions about the band's appeal. Most of these clips are reiterations of "They're fun/happy/drunk!" Some people mention the band smiling a lot. And it gets old 15 minutes in. Far more fascinating are the all-too-brief deeper glimpses into the band, like when Craig Finn breaks down his musical influences (this guy loves the Replacements) and how he found his singing voice. He's honest enough with himself to even discuss the limitations and attractions of his speak/sing style. Keyboardist Franz Nicolay, who coined the collection's title, offers way more eloquent explanations of why the band is fun regardless of which side of the stage someone is on. And that mustache! Exchanges between the band and kids are also funny. But the majority of the clips are redundant, almost cocky, in their love for the group. It's like an infomercial.

Even though the documentary is a dud, though, those who've already committed to A Positive Rage can enjoy the live record, which was recorded in Chicago. The quality starts out iffy on "Stuck Between Sessions" -- the sound is ho-hum and Finn flubs a few lines -- but it recovers quickly. Once it congeals, fans get all of the things they love about the Hold Steady -- big guitars, chiming piano and master storyteller Finn. While the listener won't always necessarily feel it, he and/or she can tell it was a good night. The live setting peels back some of Boys and Girls in America's sheen, but replaces it with way drunker, more slurred vocals. It's faster and sloppier; more alive but less cohesive. What it isn't, however, is something worth recommending to the uninitiated or the devoted. There's a better way to hear "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" or "First Night," and it involves buying the studio albums bearing them.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
mikexdude (May 2, 2009)

That sucks. As if mexico wasn't having money problems before, they're so fucked when people won't travel there.

greg0rb (May 2, 2009)

Yeah fuck swine flu. My wife was supposed to go to Mexico for 7 weeks to teach a high school Spanish summer school and make mad cash/build her resume, and they just canceled it yesterday.

mikexdude (May 1, 2009)

Finals or swine flu.

greg0rb (May 1, 2009)

Me thinkees Brian has finals or something...

skolarx (April 29, 2009)

off that npr webcast there is also an incredible tom waits set from last summer's tour

Jelone (April 28, 2009)

Congrats, Matt, on being the first person to accuse my mom of having an STD. I'm gonna go cry into my beer now...

mattramone (April 26, 2009)

People who like David Bowie have herpes.

flowerfeeder (April 26, 2009)

Posted by mevsall on 2009-04-24 16:41:18

If you get on iTunes and search for NPR's "All Song Considered" live concert podcast, you can download a full concert of theirs for free. Not to mention tons of other great bands such as Gogol Bordello and The Good, The Bad, and The Queen.


Thanks for the heads up, man! Just downloaded it!

ifgabeldiesiwilldie (April 26, 2009)

has anyone else checked out the band the varsty weirdos? there basically the ramones just in the 21st century. the stream on there page is killer!

Baldy_Shale (April 24, 2009)

I actually disagree with this review wholeheartedly. I appreciate the opinion, but for me I think the live album was great (although missing a few songs I would have like to have seen made it on there *How A Resurrection Really Feels, for example*) but I think it's a great documentation of a time and period that was very important for a band that many people hold near and dear to them.

To see them in Tucson, or back home in Minnesota really brings this air of nostalgia. That's what drives many people to think band, I think, which is nostalgia. It's great seeing what they were X amount of years ago, as opposed to today. I liked reliving something I got to watch grow not that long ago.

It's the most impressive band documentary I've ever seen. I really liked the pictures that came with it.

dev (April 24, 2009)

Re-read your review and the you actually wrote the opposite of what I thought you wrote. Score is for my reading comprehension.

dev (April 24, 2009)

I actually quite like the CD portion of this. And the fact that you don't think it's as good as any live Aerosmith album ever makes me not only want to punch you as hard as I can in the face, it makes me want to hunt you down to do so.

scorpiondeathlock (April 24, 2009)

probably the best live show ive ever been too.

mevsall (April 24, 2009)

If you get on iTunes and search for NPR's "All Song Considered" live concert podcast, you can download a full concert of theirs for free. Not to mention tons of other great bands such as Gogol Bordello and The Good, The Bad, and The Queen.

ffwoodycooks (April 24, 2009)

your mom wins because Bowie > Bouncing Souls. its science

JKyle (April 24, 2009)

Review pretty much sums up my thoughts. Pretty disappointing DVD. Short, redundant, and sorely lacking in live footage. I think they showed like ONE song in its entirety ("Stuck Between Stations") at the very end, and everything else was chopped up and interpersed with clips of the band talking about why they're so awesome. Weak.

red_eye_inc (April 24, 2009)

very good review

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