Thursday, June 29, 2006

Authority Zero - Rhythm and Booze CD Review

Authority Zero had a hit on MTV a few years back entitled “One More Minute”, but other than that, they pretty much dropped off of the collective radar of the music world. Sure, they released a record in 2004 (Andiamo), but it went predominantly unnoticed by almost everyone. Oddly, instead of fading out into obscurity, the boys in Authority Zero have decided to come back around with an acoustic live album.

Considering that both live albums and acoustic albums are usually reserved for bands that have a large back catalog or have sold well, it was very surprising to see a combination of the two used to showcase the first recorded material from Authority Zero in more than 2 years. Oddly, though, it works. The band’s music, which was a refreshing blend of Sublime and NOFX back in the day, translates very well to the laid back, acoustic performance caught on tape here.

With most live releases, the biggest complaint from fans is that the recording or mixing comes off badly. Not so here, as the mix seems to be just perfect with the sing-a-long vocals at the top of the mix, but not too high up so that all of the instruments are drowned out. On the other side of things, some fans complain about the overproduction that makes a live show sound like nothing more than a studio recording with some cheering added in. No worries about that here either as this show comes complete with flubbed lyrics, small mistimings, and other small tidbits that make a live performance different than what a band puts out in the studio. This isn’t to say that the band sucks live because they most certainly don’t. It's good to see some of the small imperfections make it into the recording.

This release is undeniably and simultaneously laid back and fun. The acoustic renditions of their reggae flavored songs come off best, as the transition from electric to unplugged wasn’t much of a stretch, but the faster paced punk numbers also made a mostly seamless changeover.

Listening to fan favorites such as “One More Minute”, “Super Bitch”, and “A Passage in Time” in an acoustic setting is actually a hell of a lot of fun. On top of the classics, you have the amazing “Paddy on the Railway” which is a song very similar to the last track on A Passage in Time in that it manages to combine a soulful melodic verse with a fast paced, almost impossibly quick, chorus, much to the crowd's delight.

Seldom are there many good live reggae flavored discs hitting the new releases shelves, especially of the acoustic variety. Heck, this is probably the only disc of its kind, at least to see the light of day within last few years. For that aspect alone it at least warrants a little attention. Thankfully it’s also pretty good.

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