Unsane

Amrep Christmas

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    5
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Recorded live to a mobile unit in St. Paul, MN, in late 1996 for the Amphetamine Reptile Records Christmas party, Amrep Christmas was Unsane's first foray into live album territory, later bested by Attack: Live in Japan, an import-only set recorded in Tokyo. Noise rock doesn't always translate well from the stage to tape, what with the unpredictable dynamics of small clubs and the difficulty in getting clean recording out of overdriven amps. Accordingly, this album is rather uneven. It certainly captures the manic intensity of the band performing live, but there are a few glitches, including tape drop-outs, an ill-timed reel change, and some small errors in song execution. Such phenomena also indicates that, unlike many (perhaps most) big-budget live albums, there were no overdubs -- this is strictly plug in and play, live to tape. Tonally, Spencer's chugging Telecaster guitar is on target, even if his voice shows decided road wear. The set, while focusing primarily on the Scattered, Smothered, and Covered album, contains a few gems from Total Destruction and the band's infamous version of Led Zeppelin's "Four Sticks."

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