Live Live In Paris
REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/31/2005
Being a fan of the Backyard Babies has always been paradoxically challenging for me. I list them as one of my favorite bands but only find myself really caring about the superb Total 13 release when it comes time for me to pop a disc of theirs into the player. With just four studio releases in their catalog, this is obviously a paltry percentage of albums that get me amped but I have always contended that there must be something more to it for me to still find myself raising the band's flag so high after recent subpar releases.
I think I now have it figured out in a way that makes sense for me to explain. Live Live In Paris proves the Backyard Babies are a band that thrives with their sound found outside of the studio. I guess this can be said for a lot of punk bands -- did I say punk band? Well, there is the problem. The band's last two albums, Stockholm Syndrome and Making Enemies Is Good , are so overproduced that the band comes off sounding herbivorous in nature, as in, anything but punk.
Where Live Live In Paris comes in to save the day is that it takes what on paper looks like a dreadful setlist from a May, 2004 gig at the La Maroquinerie and reinvents those questionable songs into sounds similar to those that make Total 13 so appealing to me. Songs such as "Earn The Crown," "Brand New Hate" and "Minus Celsius" benefit from the protein ingestion of the Backyard Babies' live sound and turn Live Live In Paris into an event that proves the true root of this paradox, as those songs are just plain awful on the studio albums in which they are found. Throw in the Total 13 tracks"Made Me Madman," "Highlights" and "U.F.O. Romeo" among others, and Live Live In Paris becomes more of a complete listen.
Humourously, I'll point out that it's with the track "U.F.O. Romeo" that I have to really question what I am hearing. In introducing the track, vocalist Nicke Borg bellows, "alright Houston….you've got a problem!!!" Does Borg think I'm on as many drugs as him in trying to pass this over on me? I doubt he's obscuring some benign reference to Houston in linking NASA and UFO's together. I mean his audience is supposedly French and we all know the French aren't that smart. Thankfully, lead guitarist, Dregen throws in the obligatory "merci!" at the end of the track which will keep me from putting certain production rumors into play.
Anyways, Live Live In Paris is the best Backyard Babies album I have bought in years and succeeds in depicting the band in their true live form. I speak from the experience in March, 2004 which had me catching the band perform (two months earlier than this recording) while headlining a gig in Oslo on this same tour. The only complaint I have in judging Live Live In Paris may be an unfair one as it has nothing to do with what is found on the album, but rather, it's a dig at them leaving their best song, "Spotlight The Sun," off the tracklist.
That aside, Live Live In Paris communicates a true current statement and would be an appropriate place to discover the band performing with their best punk n' roll effort . This is a good thing for the American public as the Backyard Babies are preparing to set sail on their first headlining U.S. tour since 2000 this June and will likely be playing most of what is found on this disc.