Theatre of Hate

Act 3

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The third volume in Theatre of Hate's late-'90s archive series, Act 3 is highlighted by a live (in Stafford, England) disc that captures the band on the eve of combustion but still keen to introduce its audience to the material intended for its second album. In the event, that disc was never completed and the best of its contents traveled to Kirk Brandon's next project, Spear of Destiny. But "Grapes of Wrath" and "Flying Scotsman" both make heart-stoppingly evocative appearances here, to pinpoint this disc among the most vital of all Theatre of Hate live recordings. The studio disc is less gripping, although it teams nicely up alongside Spear of Destiny's Elephant Daze collection, being further evidence of how Brandon spent his mid-'90s stay in Philadelphia. Recorded under the reclaimed Theatre of Hate name, Retribution offers up a sharp guess-timate of where the band might have stood had it survived the intervening decade and a half -- and even includes a powerful re-recording of "Propaganda," one of the original group's best-loved numbers. There's also a tribute to Kurt Cobain, "Stone in the Rain," which avoids all the pitfalls that description might ordinarily warn you of, to emerge one of Brandon's all-time best compositions.

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