Steven Page - Guitar, Vocals
Ed Robertson - Guitar, Vocals
Jim Creegan - Bass
Tyler Stewart - Drums
Kevin Hearn - Piano, Keyboard, Various Instruments
Compiled from several shows spanning their 1996 tour for Born On A Pirate Ship
, Rock Spectacle
covers the best of the Ladies' live show, right down to their odd stage antics. While the three studio albums that came before this live set were not exactly the most amazing releases from BNL as a whole (despite a Junea award and fantastic sales on Gordon
), the Ladies manage to either make something out of nothing or improve an already great piece on just about every song, and that is why this live compilation shines. I know this firsthand because this was my first BNL record after Stunt
, and after buying all the records before this one, it is still the superior album by far.
For example, "Straw Hat And Old Dirty Hank" from Pirate Ship
was not exactly the most exciting song BNL's done... it was tame and rather unimpressive in the studio. Here, they manage to make it amazing, putting in parts that were never there, playing off of each other, and doing things a fantastic live band knows how to do. While the ballads "Break Your Heart" and "What A Good Boy" were exceptional on their records, they are so much more affecting and beautiful here that they become much preffered to their originals.
The songs from Maybe You Should Drive
("Jane", "These Apples", "Life In A Nutshell") retain a much more upbeat feel to them than was found the first time around, while the tracks from Pirate Ship
("Hello City", "Straw Hat", "When I Fall", "Break Your Heart", "The Old Apartment") bring out the emotion that was initially just noticable enough to be deemed interesting. And of course, the tracks from Gordon
are fantastic. "Brian Wilson", "What A Good Boy" and fan favorite "If I Had $1000000" are simply excellent renditions and deserve to be heard.
The Ladies are revered for their humorous take on music, and with this record you get both sides. On the one hand, you get a hidden track, containing a silly story and an improv rap piece about Ed's "Uncle Elwyn", and you get the spontaneous antics of "If I Had $1000000" (which is the audience's biggest moment on the record).
On the other, I feel the best tracks are the beautiful, emotional ones: "Break Your Heart", "When I Fall", "Jane", and "What A Good Boy" are the real standouts, but they don't outshine the upbeat tracks at all; the truth is that there is not a bad track here. All are well-written, awesomely preformed, and a pleasure to listen to. While other BNL albums may make it difficult to get past the candy-coated exterior and goofy humor, this has something for everyone. I think Rock Spectacle
is definitely worthy of a 5/5.
Recommended Tracks: "Straw Hat And Old Dirty Hank", "Break your Heart", "When I Fall", "What A Good Boy"
Overall Rating: 5/5