American Hi-Fi frontman Stacy Jones might have made his bones as the drummer for alternative rock outfits like Veruca Salt and Letters to Cleo, but he cut his creative teeth on bands like the Replacements and Cheap Trick. American Hi-Fi brings all of these influences and more to Live From Tokyo (subtitled "Rock n' Roll Noodle Shop"). Documenting an electrifying 2001 performance in Japan, Live From Tokyo is more than a mere rehashing of the band's greatest hits. Of the ten songs here, only six are from American Hi-Fi's self-titled debut. The Nirvana-flavored "Hi-Fi Killer," the album-opening "Scar," and the sonic miasma that is "A Bigger Mood" suffer little from their transition to the stage, sounding pretty much like their album versions. New tunes like "Safer on the Outside" and "Waking Up to the End of the World" accomplish more due to their lack of familiarity, the former a subtle treatment on the pain of betrayal, the latter a snotty, punkish response to a romance lost. A cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender" hits the bull's-eye, causing the normally low-key Japanese audience to explode, while the bittersweet longing of "Flavor of the Weak" translates into any language. The rhythm-driven "Happy" closes the album with a bang, chaotic guitars matched by Jones' snarled vocals in a tale of unrequited love. An excellent follow-up to an encouraging debut, Live From Tokyo has the potential to do for American Hi-Fi what Live at Budokan did for Stacy Jones' idols Cheap Trick, breaking the band stateside in a big way.
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AllMusic Review by Rev. Keith A. Gordon