Released on DCN in the spring of 2002, Live showcases the post-Cris Kirkwood/post-Derrick Bostrom band in a live setting - it's the second album from this lineup, and the first time to A/B classic Meat Puppets material by the original band and the new lineup. On whole, the new lineup doesn't fare badly at all; they sound better than a cover band, thanks to Curt Kirkwood's distinctive guitar and vocals, and the band dutifully follow his lead. It is noticeably less loopy or distinctive than the seminal lineup of the Meat Puppets - it's straightforward and dependable, lacking the unpredictable spark of the group at their heyday. Some could complain about this, but if they do, they're being churlish and selfish, since it took Curt Kirkwood a lot of effort and, indeed, personal loss to get to a point where he has a dependable band that sounds good on an average night. Yeah, this isn't a wooly, live-wire performance like the kind captured on Live in Montana, but it's well-done and thoroughly enjoyable, one that lives up to what long-time fans want, or even need, to hear from the band. That doesn't mean that Live is a record you'd listen to a whole lot, but it is satisfying, and it's heartening to hear that Curt Kirkwood can lead a version of the Meat Puppets that delivers reliably. Unreliability may have been one of their key charms, but that's captured on record, and it's 2002, not 1982 - he is a veteran that deserves to be able to be a working musician with a band as good as this one.
Live at Maxwell's 2.08.01 Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine