Face to Face - Live (Cover Artwork)

Face to Face

Live (1998)

Vagrant / Lady Luck

Of all the bands I liked in high school, Face to Face has faded the quickest from my CD player. Maybe it's the over-generalness of their lyrics; maybe it's Trevor Keith's naked careerism; or maybe it's because I only really liked one album start to finish (Don't Turn Away, 1992). I definitely loved them at the time -- they were fast, tight, catchy as hell and lots of fun. But they lacked a bit of depth.

Regardless, Face to Face isn't entirely to blame for only getting two stars. The larger problem is live punk albums in general. They're either extremely disposable, poorly recorded or exist for no good reason. The Clash's From Here to Eternity came about 20 years too late; Social D's Live at the Roxy seemed released just to satiate fans. And those are the ones I LIKE. F2F's Live seems to exist to bookend their career transition -- the next album by the only band to ever make something of themselves from Victorville was the widely divisive Ignorance Is Bliss.

Anyway, the songs: There's a good split between the first three records (DTA, Big Choice, the self-titled one) and it wisely downplays Big Choice in favor of the other two. The most surprising thing about this record is that it doesn't feature "Disconnected." I'd bet my life that the band played that song at the show, but didn't want to have FOUR CDs with that song on it.

In all honesty, this album is pretty useless. It doesn't have any sermonizing (hello, Mike Ness) or drunken banter, á la NOFX. Just 18 songs played fast and tight with an occasional hoot from the audience. Nothing on here makes the songs sound better than on their studio records. Okay, there's a Social Distortion cover, with the band doing their best impersonation of Fullerton's finest. But that's about it. Unless you're a completist, just stick with the studio stuff.