Daniel Ash: always the bridesmaid, never the bride -- save for once, when he topped the charts with Love and Rockets' smash hit "So Alive." Though his success with Bauhaus definitely put him on the map as an aggressive, progressive, and greatly talented guitarist and singer, wide audience acceptance was still scattershot and illusive. Certainly, Bauhaus had its share of rabid fans and Ash's experimental side project Tones on Tail garnered critical acclaim (as well as an international club hit with "Go!"), but it wasn't until his band Love and Rockets' self-titled fourth album that he tasted true success. It's surprising that mainstream radio took such a long time to recognize what Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets fans were aware of from the get-go -- Daniel Ash was a true guitar god and a sexy vocalist to boot. Breathy, silky-smooth, and greasy, Ash's voice recalled an alien Marc Bolan while his blistering Stratocaster work took '50s riffs into the 21st century with his deft use of truckloads of effects and electronic trickery. With a résumé that reads like a who's who of alternative rock, Ash should (by all accounts) be a superstar, yet he seems comfortable in his status as underground icon -- continuing to release solo albums that are inventive, fresh, and unique but always on the fringe of mainstream tastes and ideals. With a body of work as deep and varied as his it might seem impossible to put it all together in a representative package, but his live offering Come Alive does exactly that. Culling tracks from his more recent solo albums, as well as outstanding cuts from his Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets songbooks, Come Alive presents a solid argument for Ash's iconic status. Every tune, new and old, is delivered with ultra-confident swagger and a great deal of rock & roll muscle, with the road band alternately channeling the sounds and atmospheres of four different groups within the course of the set. The recording is superb, the mood electric, and the performance visceral -- from the stomping rock machismo of "Get out of Control" to the pastoral and acoustic"Sweet FA," the set covers all of the bases, cracks one out of the park, and brings it all home. Bauhaus' haunting, 12-string-heavy "Slice of Life" flows seamlessly into Love and Rockets' equally 12-string-heavy, rocker-ballad "American Dream" in one of the disc's many sequencing triumphs. "Christian Says" soars with E-Bow-fueled eeriness and a rocking version of "Coming Down" mule-kicks the original until it's unconscious. A great set, a great sound, and a surprising amount of musical and lyrical depth make Come Alive one of the best (and most respectable) "live career retrospect" offerings to come down the pipe in quite a while -- a great touchstone in an amazing catalog of work, and a fine introduction to Daniel Ash for those who missed him the first time(s) around.
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AllMusic Review by J. Scott McClintock