Most live albums suffer from a few common problems: poor recording quality, too much dead space between tracks, and frontmen who fancy themselves stand-up comedians. Somehow, Teenage Bottlerocket's Live in '06 manages to avoid all of these pitfalls, and offers one of the better live albums in recent memory.
The pace of the disc is probably its strongest suit. There is just over a second of cheering to start the disc, then you hear "Hey, what's up? We're Teenage Bottlerocket and this is 'Radio.'" A couple of drum kicks follow and the band immediately goes through the opener to 2005's Total. From that point on, it's strictly business -- no long breaks for water or irritating banter on this disc. In the two or so seconds between songs, you may hear one member shout out the song title, and perhaps another one will quickly slur together a count ("ONETWOTHREEFOUR!"). Other than that, it's pretty much just music, and given the quality of the set played, that's a very, very good thing.
Every song on the disc is played with an abundance of energy, so much so that the tracks here seem to take on a new life despite the number of times you may have already heard them. In many cases, the songs just sound better, the raw live recording and errors just seem natural for Teenage Bottlerocket. That's not to say there are many errors -- the band's harmonies are surprisingly tight for a live set, and sound even better than expected. For example, Ray takes the lead on "Go Away," but Kody's backing vocals are nearly perfect. They are not overpowering at all, but subtly layered to complement Ray's singing.
Ultimately, the biggest downside to the disc is something apparent in its title -- it was recorded in 2006. The great Warning Device was not released until 2008, meaning that some of the band's best tracks are absent from the live album (I would love to have heard "Pacemaker" live, for sure). Surprisingly, there are still three tracks from Warning Device on the album -- "On My Own," "Warning Device" and "Gave You My Heart" -- which shows how early the band was writing material for that disc. Also, only one track from their oft-forgotten debut Another Way appears here, which means that if you're going to listen to this live album, I hope you're a fan of Total.
Though it's a shame that the disc is so loaded with tracks from a single album, the songs from that disc translate extremely well to a live setting and provide for a very enjoyable listen. If you're a Bottlerocket fan and are looking for something to tide you over until their Fat Wreck debut, you could do a lot worse than checking out this great live set from the band.