Thursday, July 28, 2011

Buck 65, Live and In Private

These Buck 65 tour CDs are downright addictive. This one, 2008's I Dream of Love: Live and In Private, is, as its name already makes pretty clear, a live album. It's one of several tour-only CDs he sold on the road promoting his Situation album, including two I've already written about here and here*. It wasn't recorded on the road, though; it's a set played in a recording studio (hence the "in private") specifically for this disc.

So, it features a nice selection of tracks, like "Bandits," "Heather Nights" and "Roses & Bluejays." No, this is not the same live version of "Roses and Bluejays" that was on his Boy/Girl Fight! CD I wrote about earlier in the week... but you'd have to be a hardcore fan with your ear to the speaker to notice the difference. The most noticeable distinction is he ad-libs a bit at the end, singing, "Johnny, why don't you come on home;" but apart from that, they're both pretty similar and neither really stray from the original album version.

And that note there pretty much summarizes the whole album... live recordings of songs he's released before that sound very similar to - but just not quite as good as - the original album versions. When I popped this in for the first time, I was beginning to think I'd wasted my money - only the most die-hard fan, the collector who has to have every bit of memorabilia with Buck's name attached to it, would have much use for this. At least Porch featured Buck's songs filtered through another artist's style, giving us something new. This, while entirely listenable taken out of context of the rest of his catalog - they are good songs performed by a talented artist, after all - is just like a weak knock-off of the originals; a collection you'd buy from some shady street vendor if you couldn't afford the proper albums.

You might point out, hey, a few of these mixes sound pretty different from the originals - like "Pants On Fire." Sure, but fans more intimately familiar with his catalog will recognize that this is different from the version he made the video for, but it's essentially just a replay of the "countrier" version he put on This Right Here Is Buck 65. The "Phil Remix" is just a live replay of the "Philevator" remix on Boy/Girl Fight!

The only real addition is a few spoken ad-libs between songs ("alright, lovers, I got one more and I'm going to bed"). These are very brief, though, so you're really not missing anything. What's more, on one song he warns us, "I gotta be careful; this one makes me cry sometimes." As a die-hard, life-long dedicated hip-hop lover, I hate to downplay the potential emotional impact of a really good rap song, but bullshit! What phony, ostentatious drivel. It's not even the one he wrote for his mother or anything; it's just "Out of Focus." So he's saying "I go under the blouse and grope for the breast" (that's the hook) makes him cry? Honestly, these exclusive, little soundbites don't do anything for the album.

It's only when you get to the very end of the album that you get anything worth the trouble of scoring this disc. One is a medley, titled simply "Medley," of a bunch of Buck songs (including, of course, "Centaur") blended into something you at least haven't heard before. It's short (three and a half minutes), and basically takes verses and hooks from several of his hits and plays them to one, new instrumental. Unfortunately, it's not one of his better instrumentals, and the various bits and pieces don't really fit together into anything too cohesive, or match will with the new beat. It's interesting, though, and hey - at least it's new.

Finally, there's a remix of "'65 Buick," which I don't think has been released before in any capacity. It's a fun, autobiographical tune, and it sounds very different than the original version from Synesthia. Not just different, but better. Now, this is more like it! But unfortunately, it's also the last song on the album.

Now, this CD has been restocked in some online shops recently (Strange Famous, Fifth Element), so it's available if you want it. The thing you have to decide for yourself is whether you're a big enough fan to order it for just one song (and possibly the curiosity value of "Medley"). At least you're going in with more information now than I had when I paid a bit more for a second-hand copy. :/

*The fourth one is Cretin Hip-Hop, which I probably won't be bothering with, since it's just a mixCD (by Skratch Bastid). Apparently it does feature a few exclusive bits, however.

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