2 of 2 thought this review was well writtenOur Live Album is Better than Your Live Album
; this title described two things about this album. Number one; on stage, Reel Big Fish act like a egotistical a**holes. Number two; it's better than your live album. Since the band's breakthrough in 1996, they are, and continue to be, one of the leading groups of the ska punk genre. This double live album and DVD pack is maybe their greatest release yet, as it showcases over two hours of some of their best material spanning their entire career, compiled with lots of "witty banter" (as Aaron Barrett self-described his endless verbal abuse of his band-mates and the audience) and some new material (including a brand new track).
- Aaron Barrett - lead vocals, lead guitar
- Scott Klopfenstein - lead backing vocals, rhythm guitar, trumpet
- Matt Wong - bass
- John Christianson - lead trumpet, backing vocals
- Dan Regan - trombone, backing vocals
- Ryland "The Rabbit" Steen - drums
On the 23rd of March, 2006, Reel Big Fish recorded a few shows during the "Deep Freeze" tour. Apparently, footage from seven different shows are on this album, one of which was also filmed and released as the DVD. This live album includes:
REEL BIG FISH'S Three Tips for Putting on a Great Live Show:
- The first disc; "More Shtick than You Can Shake a Stick At", consisting of 16 songs and one spoken word track, totaling an hour, one minute and fifty-three seconds.
- The second disc; "Move Fastly With the Fast Music", consisting of 14 songs and 4 spoken word tracks, totaling an hour, two minutes and nine seconds.
- A DVD; "You're All in This Together", consisting of one hour, twenty five minutes and five seconds of footage over the course of 20 tracks.
The fun thing about this album is that it's not a feeble attempt at imitating every exact note of the studio recordings of the performed songs like so many of pathetic live albums, but instead, the band uses a very distinct formula:
- Play every note with exact precision.
- To keep the audience interested instead of playing exactly what was on the album, add a bit of variety to the songs while still maintaining all the precision (e.g. slow down the tempo, add some new material such as bridges, solos, etc.).
- Discuss ridiculous topics with the audience and/or verbally abuse the crowd and your band-mates (especially Scott Klopfenstein and John Christianson), prominently using large amounts of swearing (endlessly discuss "kicking ass").
For a live album, every instrument surprisingly is well polished, almost causing it to loose the feel of a live album. Fortunately, they make up for this with the aforementioned new interludes, slight notation variations, and chatting between songs, therefore maintaining that great live album feel. Also, the new interludes and the band's in-between-song banter allows the album to flow beautifully.
1. Vocals and guitar:
Aaron Barrett's guitar consists of a few different styles, bouncy ska, wah-wah pedal solo, and raging punk, all of which are mesmerizing. His vocals are just as they always are, with the standard range of a punk rock singer, but the thing that impressed me was the simultaneous backing vocals from Klopfenstein (Matt Wong, Dan Regan and John Christianson also performs backing vocals, but these are not as audible as Klopfenstein's), which (though his vocals are higher than Barrett's to an almost awkward extent), when combined with Barrett's provide a great entwined vocal melody that, on top of the catchy lyrics, are absolutely fantastic. An interesting highlight is when Klopfenstein takes the lead during the outro chorus of "The Set Up (You Need This)", which sees Barrett gracefully step down to backing vocals for the duration of the segment. Also, the band was accompanied by Ali Tabatabaee of Zebrahead rapping on the band's cover of Operation Ivy's "Unity", as well as Rachel Minton of Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer performing the female vocals on "She Has a Girlfriend Now" (both of these vocalists did amazingly on their respective tracks).
2. The rhythm section; bass and drums:
Matt Wong's bass, when audible, is a treat. He utilizes his funky slapping/popping skills on "Everything Sucks", and performs lots of his famous "sweet bass licks" all over the album. Ryland "The Rabbit" Steen's drums are a little disappointing, due to the fact that (as far as I know) he doesn't have many parts in which he is given any sort of recognition (I'm talking about both his instrument and Steen himself). Steen's drums seem to be of a standard punk rock caliber, but are, nonetheless, great support for the lead instruments, and does have some small parts in which he can demonstrate his drumming skill, namely a few outro drum solos (e.g. the outro of "Beer" on the DVD).
3. The horn section:
My favourite thing about Reel Big Fish is their well composed horn section, in which the horns frequently take the lead. Dan Regan's trombone and John Christianson's trumpet are very melodic, and are stylized in several ways, namely a part of the introduction to "Where Have You Been?" that rips-off the "Imperial Theme" from "Star Wars", and a Spanish trumpet interlude (prior to "Beer") from Christianson, to which Barrett tells him to "shut up" (both of these are off the DVD). Horn highlights include "You Don't Know" (DVD only) and "The Set Up (You Need This)". The two also perform several solos, including John's short, smooth jazz trumpet solo during the interlude of "Where Have You Been?" and Dan and John's dual solo during "The Fire". The one unusual thing I noticed was that Scott Klopfenstein does not get many lead trumpet parts (this is strange when you consider that Klopfenstein played the "lead trumpet" parts on studio songs all the way from 1995 through to 2004 when John Christianson joined the band), but this is probably because he performs both primary backing vocals and rhythm guitar on some tracks (he even has a solo on one of the tracks), so giving him some lead trumpet roles will either be too much for him to handle, or it would just be overly self-indulgent.
Aside from the band's childish swearing, there are also some "different" comedic features. One of the most enjoyable, unique, and ultimately hilarious parts of the CD is the seventeenth and final track of the first disc, titled "S.R. (The Many Versions of)", as it consists of nine different, ridiculous versions of the song (in order; original, punk, blues, disco, country, garage rock, old school rap, death metal, emo).
On the DVD, easily the most hilarious segment is the very end of track six ("Where Have You Been?"), in which Aaron asks the otherwise silent bass guitarist, Matt Wong, to sing the final lyric of the song. The crowd goes wild as they chant "Matt Wong!" continuously, and they go quiet as he finally sings the words; "where...have...you...been...?", in a soulful, high pitch voice. The audience goes absolutely nuts, and Wong is congratulated by Aaron Barrett, to which he replies "thank you very much".
In my opinion, this is the best live album I have ever heard. Compiling thirty five live tracks and video footage of a twenty song set from one of the best ska punk bands around, this album does not only feature a large amount of material, but is just downright amazing. Every member performs their instruments with exquisite precision, as well as throwing in some cool solos and improvisations. Altogether, I feel that it deserves a five, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
- Well polished, skillful instrumentation.
- Great flow.
- Lots of humorous moments.
- The band performs most of their best tracks from their entire discography.
FIVE OUT OF FIVE ("CLASSIC")
- The in-between-song banter is not very funny, but is nonetheless entertaining. However, it is a lot funnier on the DVD.