Back in 1986, Beggars Banquet had included a bonus eight-track live album, Glad to Be Alive, with initial copies of Discovery, a decision that rankled Gene Love Jezebel for years. In a way, the double-disc In the Afterglow (Live) was a belated attempt to set things right. Alive had suffered from the label slapping the recording straight onto wax, without bothering with such niceties as postproduction; Afterglow, in contrast, was lovingly worked into final shape by Jezzie guitarist James Stevenson. Accordingly, the sound is magnificent, the mix excellent, but still the album doesn't quite capture the band's live power. This is particularly true of disc one, which was recorded at the Toronto Concert Hall, during the ill-fated House of Dolls tour in February 1988. Michael Aston had quit the band the previous year, and only reluctantly returned for the tour. GLJ had built their live reputation not on musical showmanship, but on the Astons constantly trying to show one another up. Usually it was all good-natured, but not always. Jostling and elbowing for the mic led to shoving, which led to pushing, and more screaming. It was totally electrifying. In their early days, the band merely provided a ramshackle accompaniment to the main event -- the battling twins. But the Astons were now weary of the battle, and barely interacted at all, dousing the spark that electrified their live performances. The rest of the band soldiered on regardless, turning out a set that showcases their own superb musicianship. And while that can't quite substitute, it does make for a satisfying record. In contrast, the second disc was recorded in May 1983 at Minneapolis' First Avenue. With the tension, and Michael Aston long gone, the music and band shine anew, and Jay Aston takes total control of the stage and the audience. The excitement has returned, albeit without the fireworks of yore; in its place comes a more mature and intimate band.
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