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Rob Zombie Live Review

by Robert VerBruggen

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Rob Zombie's studio recordings depend on production trickery movie dialogue excerpts, techno flourishes and guitars processed to sound far bigger than they could naturally. And his live shows earned their notoriety for shock theatrics. So it should surprise no one that Zombie Live captures the best aspects of neither.

It's actually quite stunning how the simple requirement of live performance can suck the life out of these tracks. The crowd seems to be enjoying itself, and the stage explosion pictured on the cover looks pretty cool, but a few microphones just can't take in the energy. Even if, for a live album, the sound quality is quite good.

The biggest letdown is "Living Dead Girl," Zombie's all-time most enjoyable studio composition. As soon as the guitars have to actually sound like guitars as opposed to super-compressed, full-spectrum wads of fuzz the whole thing falls apart. Zombie's missing some of the crucial vocal rhythms and melodies doesn't help. Same goes for pretty much everything off Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge, including "Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)," "Superbeast" and "Dragula."

That isn't to say it's all bad. A full 18 tracks make the CD, giving fans a decent value for their money. Also, the old White Zombie material always had more of a live feel, as did Zombie's last solo release, Educated Horses.

The slide-guitar riff on "More Human than Human" sounds as unhinged as it ever did, and if anything, "Thunderkiss '65" comes off with more energy (at least until John 5 wanks for two minutes at the end what is this, 1986?). The guitars of "American Witch," which lead the record after a "Sawdust in the Blood" intro, chug convincingly.

This is an album for diehard fans; it will bring back memories for those who've seen Zombie in person, and there's some extra value in a few of the performances. However, anyone looking for a simple hits collection should turn to Past, Present & Future.

Robert VerBruggen (http://robertsrationale.blogspot.com) is Assistant Book Editor at The Washington Times.


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