Ah, the live concert recording—a temptation to all bands. It is, after all, at the root of what musicians do. They play live for audiences. The studio album is the polished, controlled effort used to build audiences. Why then don’t more bands make live recordings? Because they rarely work. What an audience can accept of human fallibility and uneven sound levels when they’re there watching and experiencing, often does not translate well to aural-only recordings.
After three studio albums, Town Mountain, the interesting roots band from North Carolina, has gone the live route, offering ten songs from their concert at the Isis Theatre in Asheville. Seven originals and a nice cover of Hank Williams, Jr.’s “5 Shots Of Whiskey” are from their studio recordings. Two covers, “The Race Is On” and “Orange Blossom Special” are fresh, so to speak. Sad to say, this album is one of the ones that doesn’t work, mostly soundwise. The crowd obviously thinks it does work. They’re enthusiastic.
Again, seeing and hearing is believing. The music on the CD is way out of balance. There is entirely too much bass. I turned the bass down and the treble up, and I still couldn’t shake it. It was better, but not enough, and made all the instruments thin. Which is a shame, because hidden behind the poor sound is a band with drive. They’re aggressive. They play like they mean it, and they’ve got some good material. “Up The Ladder,” a rockabilly number from guitarist Robert Greer (one of the few tunes that came across well) is a rousing number. Mandolinist Phil Barker’s “Lawdog” has some good moments and a ton of grit, even through the tangled sound. “5 Shots Of Whiskey” was also pretty good—even through the tangled sound. The poor sound, however, wins in the end. (www.townmountain.net)BW