Review Summary: The King of modern power pop releases his second live album for free download.
Radiohead may have raked in both the dollars and the plaudits for their not-so-gutsy-in-retrospect decision to release In Rainbows
for download via the trust system late last year, but even that promotion was limited to one disc- the second cost roughly $92 to get hold of.
A more cynical analyst might brand the entire In Rainbows
campaign an equally cynical ploy to entice fans into paying more, and more often, for the same basic product- In Rainbows
was both issued in both CD and box-set form in the following months- but that’s not my style. The point is merely that for artists like Saul Williams, who released The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!
via will.i.am’s Musicane store in November, and Butch Walker to release music on the honour system constitutes somewhat of an actual risk. The loss of advances and touring support may actually affect their quality of life.
Leavin’ The Game On Luckie Street
is the first of three Butch Walker releases due in the coming months. A double-disc live album, recorded at a homecoming gig in Atlanta, Georgia’s Tabernacle on April 20, 2007, it captures Walker on the final day of a month-long tour in support of his glam rock opus The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites
. Drawing from his extensive back catalogue (though, thankfully, not so far back as his days with Poison-aping southern co
ck rockers Southgang), the twenty-four song set has the air of a “best of,” taking just four tracks from The Rise & Fall
, though regrettably leaving out high-energy favourites ‘My Way’ and ‘Freak Of The Week.’
The first disc leans more towards the up-tempo rockers, kicking off with a pair of nasally pop punk numbers in ‘Uncomfortably Numb’ and ‘Alicia Amnesia.’ The former is a bittersweet musing on drug addiction or anal sex or something, warning, “the first time’s the worst time.”
The latter is a New Found Glory-like rocker tale of the girl that everybody wants to fu
ck and who just wants to fu
ck with everybody. ‘#1 Summer Jam’ speaks of a deep yearning, but sounds like a fresh burst of sunshine, interspersed as it is with selections from Paul McCartney’s ‘Silly Love Songs.’ The sexy Bowie-esque ‘Taste of Red’ is preceded by an extended rendition of Better Than Ezra’s equally pornographic ballad ‘Laid,’ while chunky scene commentary ‘Too Famous To Get Fully Dressed’ is delivered with a sly aloofness that belies its Marc Bolan influence.
Regrettably, Walker’s otherwise outstanding vocals sound a smidge strained and he has pitch issues throughout the first disc, particularly on the falsetto hooks of recent single ‘Bethamphetamine’ and Marvelous 3 mainstay ‘Indie Queen.’ ‘Maybe It’s Just Me’ performs somewhat better in that department, however the fully-electric rendition of the song has never really translated as well as the acoustic version, and the delay-soaked slide motif sounds awkward and slightly irritating against the rollicking tempo and bright, animated melodies and vocal delivery. By the second disc, Walker has settled in, and the rough rasp he sports on Hey! Album
’s ‘Over Your Head,’ Letters
’ driving hidden track ‘Stateline’ and the solo piano rendition of Left Of Self-Centered
’s ‘Sober’ is more precise and more expressive.
Leavin’ The Game On Luckie Street
is not without its imperfections- if fans want a master class in note-perfect live performance, they need only track down the limited edition acoustic album This Is Me… Justified And Stripped
- but they’re relatively minor blemishes that fall well within the remit of a high-energy rock show. And in the absence of a definitive greatest hits volume (ironically, Walker’s lack of commercial success might just spare us that torture), Leavin’ The Game On Luckie Street
is a more than adequate substitute.
Leavin’ The Game On Luckie Street is feted for a DVD release sometime in March. In the meantime, Butch is offering fans a free download of twenty-two of the tracks in 128kbps format, plus a 320kbps download with bonus track ‘Laid/Taste Of Red’ for a nominal fee of $5.99 from TheRecordBusinessIsFucked.com. ‘Born To Run’ is currently available for streaming from Butch’s MySpace.