Metallic F.O.: Live at CBGB's

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Titled and packaged in glorious emulation of the legendary Iggy Pop and the Stooges' 1974 live album, Metallic F.O.: Live at CBGB's presents the re-formed Chelsea in equally fiery (if ultimately less-bruised) form, taking New York by storm in August 1999. As headliners on that summer's legendary Social Chaos punk tour, the band had long since clicked into top gear, nightly turning in performances that were at least as incendiary as those which burned so bright during the original punk era. That outing over, Chelsea then launched into their own mini-tour, highlighted by two shows -- at CBGB and Tramps -- that capture every last nuance of the reborn band's might. There are no surprises in the musical performance -- nostalgia, of course, weighs heavy for both the band and the crowd. But an audience that was seemingly torn between abject devotion and absolute scorn swiftly weighs into the fray, transforming what could have been a mere greatest-hits show into a borderline brutal confrontation. Vocalist Gene October may, as one of the onlookers loudly announces, be a little worse for drink, but he's in absolutely brilliant form regardless, slipping from lyric to lunging insult with barely a pause for breath, then hotwiring the anthemic "Right to Work" and careening it straight into the heart of the hecklers, who gleefully hurl it right back at them. The six-song highlight of the Tramps show is somewhat less intense, reprising the greatest hits under somewhat more civilized circumstances, but blazing just as defiantly. Indeed, though the album is peppered with reminders that it isn't 1977 any longer, Chelsea plays as though it could be. And there is no higher recommendation than that.

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