Released in a limited edition of 1,000 copies on its own CMI Productions label, Live at the Bryant Lake Bowl is Oddjobs' live collaboration with Chicago quartet Typical Cats (who would go on to release a self-titled debut the following year on Galapagos4) and the live band Heiruspecs, longtime friends and an occasional support group. Obviously not as tight in execution as the studio sets, what the music lacks in precision and depth it makes up for with energy and punch. The spoken word efforts by Denizen Kane and Nomi and the a cappella "Brick Walls," while interesting, don't come off quite as well on record as they seem to have (if the audience response is any measure) as live performances. But there are fine versions of "Time Flies," "Oscillations at 40 Hz," the Cats' Native Tongues-like "Reinventing the Wheel" and exclusive "Any Day," and a choice freestyle session near the end. Great as the rhyming is, though, the star of the show is Heiruspecs, which displays an elastic versatility (check the surprising trumpet flourishes on "Absorbing Playtime," for example), a deep vein of funkiness (Sean McPherson's basslines are superb throughout), and a laid-back way with a groove. In many respects, appreciating live hip-hop is purely a you-had-to-be-there situation, yet Live at the Bryant Lake Bowl is definitely worth tracking down.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart