High Rise

Live

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High Rise's studio albums Disallow, High Rise II, and Dispersion are all well worth owning, but if you absolutely had to narrow your High Rise purchases down to a single CD, this live album would be the best choice. Unfortunately, the liner notes don't tell listeners what the venue was or give a recording date. But wherever it was recorded, the Japanese trio is especially powerful, especially heavy and especially freewheeling on this disc (which first came out in Japan in 1994 on P.S.F. and was reissued in the U.S. by Squealer in 1999). This isn't to say that High Rise sounds neutered or inhibited in the studio, only that it is even more forceful than usual on live versions of "Mainliner," "Outside Gentiles," and "Sadame" as well as "Door," "Ikon," "Mira," and "Popsicle." In the studio, Asahito Nanjo's vocals have always been placed way down in the mix, and on-stage, they're still purposely overpowered by Munehiro Nirito's very prominent lead guitar. That might sound peculiar to some -- you never heard Robert Plant drowned out by Jimmy Page or David Lee Roth drowned out by Eddie Van Halen -- but oddly enough, it's an effect that works for High Rise. As appealing as High Rise's studio albums are, Live is by far its most essential CD.

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