Chicago, IL 02.02.03

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As if admitting that their lone 2002 studio release didn't quite capture the energy and vibe of the band at its sharpest, Twinemen have released a series of authorized live discs to remedy that situation. Additionally, these albums provide fans a better portrait of the band's strengths and show how the songs gain momentum and intensity as they are reinterpreted live. This set from an early 2003 Chicago show is indicative of that approach. Although nine of the ten tunes from their studio album are reprised, Twinemen also pull out a few new ones -- the seven-minute "Hindsight" alone is worth the bargain price of this package -- and dig into the Morphine/Mark Sandman catalog for a few others. The 14 selections provide a riveting and accurate picture of the band on a particularly potent night. Saxist Dana Colley's dry vocals offset rhythm guitarist Laurie Sargent's detached yet emotionally stirring singing and the band really finds their groove as they stretch out over the course of this 1 1/2 hour set. Drummer Billy Conway steps up to the mike for "Who's Gonna Sing," a tribute to his Morphine colleague Mark Sandman. Although they only play one Morphine track ("The Night"), the quartet unearths some rare Sandman material in "11 O'Clock" and the humorous "Cook for You," both of which close the set. The sound is very good; just dirty enough to offer a concert feel, but professionally recorded. There are few if any overdubs and the between-song patter is left intact to make this an honest document of a typical Twinemen gig. Atmospheric, even spooky, but always moving, the band has expanded on Morphine's approach by keeping the jazzy aspects yet elaborating and expanding their stripped-down, three-piece attack. Live is the best way to experience Twinemen, and this accurate document of a typically gripping show is as close as you'll get to being there.

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