June 09, 2005

Bobby Conn "Live Classics, Vol. 1"

Another day, another live album. Luckily for me, Bobby Conn's an artist who's known for wild live shows, and his new live album isn't exactly a live album. Instead of spending a lot of money by dragging a recording console to a live venue, the DIY-minded Conn decided to bring the live show to the studio. Thus, Conn invited fifty people into a recording studio and performed his live set, with no stops, no overdubs and no edits. Beers were consumed, costumes were worn, and by the looks of it, a fun time was had by all.

As expected, this Beach Boys Party!-style performance strips Conn's music of its studio gloss and sheen. The live setting means Conn's glam tendencies have been reduced, and it's glaringly apparent that his passion and soul aren't the products of studio gimmickry. If anything, Live Classics, Vol. 1 shows that Conn's an excellent singer and his band has a death-grip on THE FUNK. The best example of this is "Axis '67, Part 2," which finds the band kicking into a straight-up funk GROOVE that Conn's quite capable of taming. It's a slow, brooding jam (think What's Going On-era Marvin Gaye meeting Isaac Hayes) that's both invigorating and exciting, it's red-hot and it's REAL. Songs like "Baby Man" and "No Revolution" attempt to follow that same manner, and thought they aren't quite as captivating, they're still powerhouses.

The only problem with Conn's music is that he insists on singing in an annoying, white-boy "soul" falsetto. It was extremely annoying when The Make-Up did it ten years ago, and this trick's not aged with time. When he engages this technique, he sends his act straight into self-parody mode, which causes an Instant Track Skip Revolution Now! It's a shame, too, because Conn's much better than that. Then again, his carrying on like he's a white Ian Svenonious and borderline self-effacing parody might make more sense to see him live and experience the hand-waving and flashy costumes in person. Then again, it might not. Still, Live Classics, Vol. 1 allows you to make that choice for yourself.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.bobbyconn.com
Label Website: http://www.thrilljockey.com

No comments: