45 Grave

Only the Good Die Young: Live

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Recorded at one of many one-off L.A. reunion shows the Grave did in the late '80s -- in this case, at Hollywood's Raji's club in July 1988 -- Young captures the four members having fun with their back catalog, and a few new numbers to boot. If anything, no longer being an active band seemed to give the quartet a chance to be even crisper in terms of performance, though, arguably, fans of the sheer live chaos of their earlier days (as documented on Debasement Tapes) will miss that here. Everyone's in fine form -- not even Rob Graves, who would unfortunately pass on a couple of years later, sounds like he should belong to the undead (image and lyrics of the band notwithstanding). The irreverent spirit that ran throughout the Grave rears its head near the start, when the four tackle "Take Five" -- yes, that "Take Five" -- and, after an initially straightforward interpretation by Paul B. Cutler on guitar, unsurprisingly turn it into a launching pad for another wiggy blend of goofy mayhem. Dinah Cancer snarls her head off with all the fire evident on earlier recordings, investing the punk thrash of "My Type" and the more measured but hardly less powerful "Sheila," to name but two highlights, with the feeling that she's about to rip the audience's heads clean off. Some of the newer tracks lack the inspired nuttiness which made their early-'80s songs so much fun -- "Sorceress" is impressive, but coldly so, the type of metallic chug-n-solo you imagine appearing over the end credits of some Reagan-years women-in-prison movie. But skip to "Wax" or "Fucked by the Devil," brought out for another enthusiastic kicking, and all is once again well in the dark corners of the world.

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