Dead Meadow

Got Live If You Want It!

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An interesting and slightly unexpected release on the Brian Jonestown Massacre's label -- doubtless because Dead Meadow opened for that band, whose Anton Newcombe ended up providing the tapes -- Got Live if You Want It! is, indeed, a show recording from a date in early 2002. The combination of sludge, drift and, in Jason Simon's singing, a surprisingly easy-to-grasp melodicism that defines the group stands out pretty well here, and, while long-time fans might debate the virtues of these takes with the studio ones, this is definitely a great starting point for those new to the group. Most of the selections come from the self-titled EP -- the only Howls from the Hills song is a mighty fine "Dusty Nothing" -- and, as befits the band's oldest songs, they sound well-seasoned in the group's capable hands. Simon's got it down as both a good singer and an even better guitarist; the odd semi-whine in his vocals might initially be a touch off-putting, but, by steering clear of more clich├ęd bellows or roars, it's a great contrast to the heavy-psych mania that the trio kicks up. Although there are some understandable Black Sabbath comparisons to be made, it's better to think of this music as coming from the moody smoke of that band's era other than the Birmingham monsters specifically -- plenty of wah-wah, just enough shivering semi-funk rhythms, and a feeling that there is no such thing as too much echo. "Good Moanin'" and the concluding "Rocky Mountain High" are two of the best numbers living up to that approach. Meanwhile, "Sleepy Silver Door" lives up to its title beautifully; it's trippy in the best sense of the word, as Simon's vocals cascade over the band's full shuffling downward slide.

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