Soul Coughing

Live Rarities

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Despite its title, most of the material on this two-disc "authorized bootleg" isn't really rare, except in the sense that these particular live recordings (taken from concerts recorded between 1993 and 1997) aren't commercially available elsewhere. The songs are mostly fairly familiar Soul Coughing fare: "City of Motors," "Casiotone Nation," "Sugar Free Jazz," etc. But there are some curiosities here, several of them well worth noting: a sharp rendition of "Murder of Lawyers," the hometown shout-out "212," and the loopy Amy Fisher tribute "I'm Living on Baby Food." There's also a brief but charming take on Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" that should find its way onto a few iPod playlists. Less exciting are a brief blast of "Free Jazz" and a rather desultory performance of "Supra Genius." This version of "Blue Eyed Devil" -- a song that has provided the high point on more than one of the other live Soul Coughing albums -- is given a very fine performance here, but the mix is out of balance; without those mournful uilleann pipes up front, half the song's dark whimsy evaporates. Essential for die-hard fans; maybe less so for those with only a casual interest.

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