Review Summary: A rock and a hard place.
On the surface, Robert Bartleh Cummings looks like your average dirty metalhead; his image tends to put an underestimation on his intelligence, and for that his actions go relatively unnoticed. The reality of the matter is Rob Zombie has his head firmly on his shoulders and knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s a business man through and through – and a good one at that. This weekend he just released a discography boxset on vinyl, complete with a couple of memento trinkets, to the scathing tune of $420. And yet, to the White Zombie enthusiast there’s only one album in that collection that matters. It’s common knowledge at this point that there’s a rift in Zombie’s fanbase: on one side of the fence you have passionate fans of his solo works; on the other, you have the grouchy White Zombie fans lurking on Rob Zombie forums to let everyone know his solo stuff sucks and that a reunion of his former glory days should be put on the cards. But they shouldn’t hold their breath as they know Rob has always made it clear a reunion will never happen. It’s ran its course. Yet, as stated earlier, Rob is a good business man, and though his efforts have avoided any cashing in for those days he’s still fully aware there’s a market out there for it.
So here we are, two years after recording Astro Creep: 2000 Live
and it’s finally out in the open. It’s not quite the White Zombie reunion fans were after, but being a fan of both sides, I was anticipating a contemporary outlook on this seminal classic with John 5, Ginger Fish and Piggy D behind the wheel of the music. Unfortunately, my initial expectations for this turned into my undoing; this is an extremely faithful rendition of the LP, right down to the very note, and for purists it will be a positive selling point, but I can’t help but feel there was an opportunity wasted here. The calibre of John 5’s abilities are second to none, and though it's nice to see him keeping to the source material, minor tweaks or the incorporation of some tasty variations would have fostered the project into being a homage with a celebration for the here and now. Though I can see the predicament in why this material remains unchanged: this is an album people have spent nearly 20 years patiently waiting to hear live, and even the prospect of mixing it up could have had dire consequences. Fans paid money to hear Astro Creep: 2000
in its entirety, and Zombie honours that here.
Which leaves me musing over the purpose for this LP. Yes, there’s a minute difference to the energy and overall sound here, which indeed sounds like Rob Zombie and his men for hire playing this thing in a professionally flawless manner, and the fact it’s a live album brings a nice dimension and feeling to the songs, highlighting the fun to be had when hearing this album live — “El Phantasmo And The Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama” or “I, Zombie” being fine examples of where this album shows its energy best — but it’s hard to shake the point here. The problem I have with this album is it hears Zombie and co. blasting through the tunes without a moment to breath, like they all gathered round and placed bets on just how quickly they could get through the set beforehand. It sounds like I’m picking faults from the air, but when this album follows so closely to its counterpart, there should be something else to offer than just a mirrored copy of the originals being played live. There’s also a point to be made by hearing it this way too, which is simply that Rob is going through the motions. He sounds good on here and, like the rest of his band, professional, but with the way the album hammers through every song, with about 10 seconds of crowd interaction, you can’t help shaking the feeling he wanted it over quick. Couple that with the adventureless songs and the only feeling I get from this is that I am hearing something that should have been experienced in the flesh. It’s a fun listen for sure, well made and it’s nice hearing Rob’s current line-up smash through these great songs, but honestly, this is a pretty redundant offering which has me wanting to say, despite the enjoyment I had here, just check out the studio album instead.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A