The Distance To Here



by RandyfromPennywise USER (34 Reviews)
June 23rd, 2006 | 14 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Live - The Distance To Here (1999)

So Live was at the crossroads in 1997. After the hugely successful Throwing Copper, the band's next release was crucial in effectively determining the shape of things to come for the four lads from Pennsylvania. As it turned out, Secret Samadhi was just too dark and melancholy for 4 million of those who bought Throwing Copper and it appeared as though Live's chance of becoming an international super-group had passed. Still, Secret sold 2 million copies and it's fair to say that the band found itself in a largely similar situation to '97 two years later, only the consequences of a weak and commercially fruitless album this time round were far greater. If 1999's The Distance To Here failed miserably, Live's mainstream career would have been effectively over. Although The Distance sold less copies than Secret, it prevented the band's unconditional demise, for at least another two years.

Live reached the height of their fame in 1994 with hits such as Lightning Crashes and I Alone. This period of mainstream popularity survived until around 2000, and was categorically ended by the series of poorly received albums following The Distance To Here. This album did enough for Live. It did enough to sell over a million copies, and keep alive their faint hopes of ever reaching the heights of 1994 again. The Dolphin's Cry became the band's most successful single since Lightning Crashes and is most probably the high-point of the album. It's worthy to note that this is the first track of the album, and while it's not all downhill after Dolphin's, it doesn't bode well for the remaining 12 tracks. Ed Kowalczyk (lead singer and principal lyricist) said that the underlying purpose of The Distance was to evoke feelings of “love, peace and understanding”. While at times admirable, the feeling of 'love' is done ad nauseam and by the time We Walk In The Dream comes around the sentiment has reached tedium.

The Distance To Here does have some truly memorable moments, of which the first two singles certainly are. The unhurried Run To The Water is equal to just about any Live song, building supremely from the slow verses into the ominous and outstanding pre-verses - “In a moment we lost our minds here, and dreamt the world was round, A million-mile fall from grace, Thank God we missed the ground” - culminating in the powerful and emotive choruses. Kowalczyk's vocals are pre-eminent on this track and the flow of the band is the centre-piece for this undoubted highlight of the album. One of The Distance To Here's strongest points is the climax reached in the majority of songs through a commanding chorus, highlighting the tightness of the band and Live's outright ability to rock. The pace of Sparkle is reminiscent of Secret Samadhi and provides a welcome change from the heavily-produced, mainstream-directed songs which form the basis of the album.

Sun shows some of the more effective results of the limited experimentation on the album, and this track always reminds me of Soundgarden (perhaps it's Kowalczyk's vocals in the chorus). One of the heavier songs on the album (yet still essentially palatable by the mainstream), the piano accompaniment on the last chorus is an undoubted highlight and only adds to the climax of the song. However the fade-out feels overwhelmingly superfluous and takes the edge of the ending of the song. Although typical of Live, one gets the feeling that this album could really do with a couple of tracks that 'rock' from start to finish, rather than generically starting off slowly and building to a strong, 'rock' chorus. However Live don't just have to 'rock' to make some tight music. The brooding and menacing Where Fishes Go gives the album a needed change of direction and emphasises their ability for penning successful tracks without an overbearing positive feeling (an ability that was somewhat suppressed on this album).

Meltdown is the perfect example of Live at their solid-yet-not-quite-great best. Kowalczyk's attempt at imparting his feeling through the speakers is just too much in the verses, yet the chorus is undeniably strong, with the guitar leading the way with the effective use of effects and some superbly placed bends. Definitely one of the stronger songs on the album, Meltdown is Chad Taylor (lead guitar) at his best - not technically difficult pieces, but unquestionably catchy riffs. They Stood Up For Love was the third and least successful single from the album, and highlights the unmistakable “Pop” sound of this album, particularly in relation to Secret Samadhi. The uplifting, love-driven chorus seems generic by the eleventh track but the almost 'Funk' intro is interesting. The slow bridge is the highlight of this track with Kowalczyk at his finest, however the climax of the song is yet again somewhat flawed by the unnecessary fade-out.

The weaker moments of the album (such as Face And Ghost (The Children's Song)) don't overpower some of Live's best work, leaving The Distance To Here positioned somewhere behind Throwing Copper as part of Live's commercially-successful period. This album certainly has enough cracking tracks to potentially be a great album, yet 56 minutes of Kowalczyk trying to impart as much 'love' as possible does get tiresome. Overall this was the last of the 'great' Live albums: rather, the Live albums anyone thought were worth listening to. With several glaringly weak aspects (the completely unnecessary fading-out and the overbearing sentiment of “love”), The Distance To Here can't be considered a superb album, but it does have enough nuggets of gold sprinkled throughout the almost hour of Rock to be considered a (the last") solid offering from Live. Ultimately I give it a three-and-a-half rating despite being rather harsh at times, because the potential far outweighed the product.

Listen to: Run To The Water, Dolphin's Cry, Meltdown.

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user ratings (122)

Comments:Add a Comment 
The Sludge
June 24th 2006


Wow, I'm very surprised at the lack of "Live" on here. Very well written review, although the intro doesnt quite flow well, but that maybe just me. Also I thought Throwing Copper sold 6 million copies, not 4.
I will be working on some Live reviews in the future.

June 24th 2006


I actually quite like this album, and consider it their equal best, together with Throwing Copper. It's just good pop-rock music.

June 24th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

[QUOTE=The Sludge]Also I thought Throwing Copper sold 6 million copies, not 4. [/QUOTE]It did, I just said that 4 million less people bought Samadhi than Throwing Copper.

June 24th 2006


Yeah punk. Good review.

June 24th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers mate.

June 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

This is my favourite Live album, Dolphins Cry, Run To The Water, They Stood Up For Love and Dance With You are my favourites on there.

The Sludge
June 24th 2006


It did, I just said that 4 million less people bought Samadhi than Throwing Copper.
Wow, now I get it after rereading it. Duh.

La Revolucion
June 24th 2006


I'm not a big Live fan, but good review.

June 24th 2006


Yeah, Live is awful. Good review, though.

June 24th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=The Sludge]Wow, now I get it after rereading it. Duh.[/quote]

Yeah I worded that intro kind of oddly anyways...

October 27th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

The Distance to Here is great. If you like this album, I implore you, get Throwing Copper right now.

March 19th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

the album is great.

where fishes go criticises atheism i suppose, and i don't like the fact that they mention religion in their songs too often. otherwise cool music.

and i think this is a very good review.

August 22nd 2016


The Distance
Where Fishes Go
Voodoo Lady
We Walk in the Dream
Face and Ghost

The only Live album better than this is Throwing Copper.

October 12th 2016


Always loved this album.

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