While the proto-punk genius of the Modern Lovers' first records is well known, not so publicized is their short-lived tenure as a live band. The live treatment has mixed results on the Modern Lovers' repertoire; Jonathan Richman has two types of songs: the fast-and-furious rockers ("She Cracked"), which benefit greatly from the live setting, and the slow-burning love songs ("Hospital"), which are not as well suited. Also, the sound quality leaves something to be desired; at times Live at the Long Branch sounds like a bad bootleg rather than a soundboard recording. But despite these detractions, the band does perform great renditions of all their would-be hits. "Roadrunner," "Girlfriend," and "Pablo Picasso" are all represented here, along with a dead-on cover of the Velvet Underground's "Foggy Notion," which threatens to trump the original. Though it has its weaknesses, this is a mostly solid record that makes a perfect belated apology from the rock gods for all those Jonathan Richman solo records.
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AllMusic Review by Ari Wiznitzer