Local H

Local H Comes Alive

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"The guys play their greatest hits -- only faster! Louder! Harder!" Well, that's the joke on the inside artwork to this collection of live tapes from Local H's post-Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? road trip (along with amusing graphic parodies of both Frampton Comes Alive! and Kiss Alive!), but while that isn't too far from the truth, there's a good bit more to this album than that. Local H are usually at their best when they're at their most elemental, and on-stage, when the band is stripped down to Scott Lucas with his homemade guitar/bass combo rig and Brian St. Clair on drums, they have little choice but to come out swinging, and in this context they consistently deliver the goods. Local H Comes Alive certainly finds Lucas and St. Clair in suitably no-frills form, but that's not to say it's one 80 mph tear through the back catalog -- the slower and more skeletal performance of "President Forever" boasts a menace absent on the original studio recording, the long guitar feature on "No Problem" gives the tune a decidedly different feel from the more tricked-up take on As Good as Dead, and in this context "California Songs" gets to be the anthem it was always meant to be. And though Local H may be serving up basic meat-and-potatoes hard rock on the bulk of this disc, cranked up loud it's a medium-rare New York strip with a big side of garlic mashed spuds, which is to say it truly satisfies. And the amped-up studio recording of Britney Spears's "Toxic" that closed out the disc shows Lucas has more smarts and wit than most anyone covering this territory today. Not quite essential, but well worth a spin (or a purchase) for anyone who digs these guys.

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