Chris & Carla

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Ljubljana Review

by Ned Raggett

Recorded on the tour for Life Full of Holes in early 1995 and released some years later as an official bootleg by the two, Ljubljana is, indeed, recorded at a show held in said Slovenian city. Part of the marvel of Life Full of Holes was that despite all the many performers it never once felt overly cluttered or busy; hearing many of those songs in a vocals-guitar-cheap-keyboard only context makes their power all that much stronger. The combination of "The Silent Crossing" and "Sleep Will Pass Us By" defines spare emotional drama, while the take on George Jones' "Take Me" rivals the studio collaboration with Tindersticks. Besides Life numbers, as Eckman indicates in his initial comments, Walkabouts numbers are in the air as well. Two from New West Motel appear -- a gripping "Grand Theft Auto" and the Townes Van Zandt cover "Snake Mountain Blues" -- while three wonderful choices from the all-covers collection Satisfied Mind fill things out. Torgerson sparkles on a moving "Loom of the Land" by Nick Cave, while the concluding punch of Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home" and the Carter Family's "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone" have the same emotional power as they did at the end of Satisfied Mind. Another favorite Walkabouts cover, Neil Young's "On the Beach," pops up earlier in the set, but the most striking thing about all the remakes is how the originals stand up so well next to them. Both Eckman and Torgerson are in excellent form throughout, vocally and musically, and the crowd's loud appreciation of their work is well-earned. Their between-song comments and repartee are often fun, while Torgerson's sister Laura turns in a good on-the-spot harmonica part for "The Tower." A fine show that deserves to be heard by more than the fan base.

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