The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Live from the Middle East (Cover Artwork)

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Live from the Middle East (1998)


In the spirit of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' recent live reunion, I felt it appropriate to finally give 1998's Live from the Middle East its due here on Punknews. The Bosstones were for my middle teenage years what G.I. Joes were to my preteen years -- something I held very close to my heart but now have very little to show for it. Around the age of 11, I seemingly woke up one day and decided that strapping Beach Head to a humungous firecracker and sending him into orbit was much more logically sound than deploying him on a Secret Ops mission into the brush in the front yard per usual. Similarly, a handful of years later I realized that if I hadn't listened to an album in a couple months, I was "over it" and would never want to listen to it again. I inadvisably sold most of my once beloved Bosstones records to a local record shop for egregiously low prices. Now I am left with a mere few keepsakes of these departed times: Lt. Falcon, Battle Android Trooper, Ska-Core the Devil and More, and Let's Face It.

Needless to say, I have made mistakes in my youth. This became especially obvious when, a half-dozen years later, I found Live from the Middle East, an album I overlooked at its time of release, in a thrift shop bin for 99 cents. I decided to "splurge" and pick it up. After a few listens, which I needed to grow accustomed to as it was a surprisingly low sound quality for such a then-popular act, I fully understood the error of the aforementioned ways -- the songs on this album, most of which I had long since forgotten, fucking rock. "Devil's Night Out," "Cowboy Coffee," "737/Shoe Glue" -- all the early underground hits are included. From start to finish, this is a high-energy five-night collage of the Boston band's annual Hometown Throwdown.

The Bosstones give us 22 songs, many of which bleed into each other with impressive seamlessness, to keep our hearts pumping. Unless you are a die-hard fan, however, 22 frantic songs may be a bit too much. They give the listener a chance to relax with "Royal Oil" and elements of "Hell of a Hat," but I still would gladly trade a couple faster cuts for their excellent Marley cover "Simmer Down" or their dawdling, ambiguous "Another Drinkin' Song." Still, this frenzied pace is what the Bosstones were (mostly) about through 1998, so I can't raise too much of a fuss.

Overall, Live from the Middle East delivers goods a-plenty. Though lacking a bit in sound quality, the electrifying performance of nearly all their classics makes up for lost ground, virtually creating a live greatest hits collection. But excuse me, please, for I must now head outdoors to look skyward -- Beach Head might be on his way back down.