Bad Manners

Don't Knock the Bald Head: Live

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Another mystery from Receiver, a label that goes out of its way to create confusion and chaos in its wake. Take the title -- the label certainly did, straight out of Pork Pie's hands, for the German ska label released a new studio Bad Manners album this same year with precisely the same title (in the U.S. it was titled Heavy Petting). A glimpse at the track listing clears that up, but wait, has the label finally released an affordable greatest-hits collection? So one might assume, unless one takes heed of the small "live" printed in the top right-hand corner of the sleeve. Right, this is a live album, but from where and when? Who knows? Receiver certainly isn't going to tell -- and deepens the mystery by not even crediting bandmembers. With so many classics filling the grooves, one might assume it was recorded on the same 1987 tour as Live and Loud!, but a couple of later numbers and the title track suggest that it's much later than that. At any event, with a generous heaping of 22 songs built around a multitude of hits and crowd faves, boasting excellent sound and a stellar mix that's big, bright, and brash, this leaves that earlier album in the shade. There's more energy found across this set as well: the crowd's bay is louder, Buster Bloodvessel is more effusive, and as tight as the band is, there's a lovely looseness to it all. So whatever its genesis, it makes for a gala of a record, a non-stop skank-fest. Now why Receiver didn't make that clear to begin with is an enigma. As a live album it's a classic; no reason to fool people into believing it's anything else.

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