Rage

From the Cradle to the Stage: 20th Anniversary

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Of all of rock & roll's many comatose old tricks, few are hanging as tenuously to their life-support systems as that absolute relic known as the live album. Having said that, Rage's first such effort, From the Cradle to the Stage, benefits from a better premise (celebrating the enduring power thrashers' 20th anniversary), a better track listing, and a better overall recording quality than most half-hearted, contract-fulfilling entries into the format. Recorded in the German town of Bochum on January 25, 2004 over the course of a grueling, three-hour-plus performance, the two-disc extravaganza packs most of the necessary classics ("Suicide," "Don't Fear the Winter," the ancient Avenger track "Prayers of Steel," etc.) in with representative cuts from the band's later-day albums ("Refuge," "Solitary Man," etc.), and, to remind us of the band's '80s origins, the mandatory drum and guitar solos (goofily and pointlessly titled "Anarchy" and "Rocket Science," respectively). Really, From the Cradle to the Stage offers pretty much perfect fodder for committed Rage fans sharing the band's celebratory mood, but won't prove nearly as crucial to casual observers -- lest they consider live albums valid replacements for greatest-hits sets.

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