Pylon

Pylon Live

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AllMusic Review by

The B-52s were the first band to break out of the Athens, Georgia new wave scene in the late '70s, and R.E.M. would become the city's greatest musical ambassadors. But in many respects, Pylon were not only the best Athens band, but one that truly reflected the very individual aesthetic behind the city's music scene. Pylon's deep, bass-heavy rhythms made them an ideal dance band for the smart and idiosyncratic, qualities that have always marked the town's best music. And the sharp but elemental report of their guitars rocked without being beholden to the accepted clich├ęs of the Deep South. Pylon were taut and eccentric, with a sense of humor that announced itself subtly, and their best work -- 1980's Gyrate and 1983's Chomp -- reflects their time and place while still sounding utterly contemporary today. As good as Pylon were in the studio, they were even better on-stage, sounding tighter and more resonant with an audience to play for, and there's finally concrete evidence of the band's strength as a live act with the release of Pylon Live. The band broke up in 1983 (they reunited periodically), and their final gig was recorded and videotaped for a possible PBS broadcast; while the show never aired, this album preserves the music they played that night, and it's a fine replication of Pylon's live attack. The audio is flawed in that Vanessa Briscoe Hay's vocals are buried deep in the mix, and on early tracks like "Working Is No Problem" and "Gravity," what makes it through often sounds like a screech. But Hay sounds better as the album goes along, and the band is nothing less than superb. The cool, skittery lines that leap from Randall Bewley's guitar are honestly inspired, and Michael Lachowski's bass and Curtis Crowe's drums lay out a pulse that's pure cool, minimalist funk, Chic remade for Southern hipsters (and that's a compliment). The set list covers most of the best moments in the Pylon songbook, and while the crowd is even deeper in the mix than the vocals, it's pretty clear a grand, sweaty time was had by all. Pylon Live isn't perfect, but as a reminder of what made Pylon special and how well they worked on-stage, it does what it needs to do beautifully, and this is a splendid archival document of a group whose importance becomes increasingly evident with the passage of time.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:25
2
4:03
3
3:01
4
3:00
5
2:38
6
3:18
7
4:30
8
3:09
9
2:32
10
2:36

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
5:00
2
4:12
3
2:54
4
4:00
5
3:34
6
3:49
7
3:58
8
2:33
9
5:24
10
2:48
blue highlight denotes track pick