Tom Tom Club

Live @ the Clubhouse

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Since there was no Tom Tom Club compilation available as of 2002, this double album serves as both a much needed career recap as well as an enjoyable romp through their mélange of hip-hop, reggae, Afro, and funk. With six out of 17 tracks coming from 2000's The Good, the Bad and the Funky and only one from 1983's Close to the Bone (conspicuous in its absence is "Pleasure of Love," a fairly substantial hit from that album), it's not exactly an even sampling, but the band sounds great throughout. Tina Weymouth's little girl vocals and husky bass give the music its frisky, tropical, nearly childlike bounce, and husband Chris Frantz's sturdy drums are mixed way up front. One new composition, the eight-minute "Sand," moves further into Peter Gabriel-style world music. "Punk Lolita," a holdover from the disappointing No Talking Just Head David Byrne-free Talking Heads reunion, could have been eliminated. Yet this is still a consistently effervescent, energetic, and upbeat live show that proves the Tom Tom Club's music is timeless. Audience ambiance is mixed so low as to be nearly inaudible, but otherwise the sound is crisp, clear, and leaps out of the speakers with more oomph than any of their studio albums. Everything -- even the molasses paced, ominous, and ultimately misguided version of "96 Tears" -- benefits from the pumped-up live approach. Both "Genius of Love" and "Wordy Rappinghood" are invigorated with a shot of energy 20 years after they were originally recorded and sound arguably better here than in their studio versions. The only Talking Heads classic revisited is Al Green's "Take Me to the River," a logical choice. The group's clever cover of Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" is a showstopper. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a wiggle in your walk, Live @ the Clubhouse really is the next best thing to being there.

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