Soul Coughing

Rennes, France 03.12.94

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Of the five "authorized bootleg" Soul Coughing albums released in 2007 by the Kufala label, this one is the most frustrating. For one thing, it's considerably shorter than the others at about 60 minutes spread over two discs. But since the list price is $12.00, that's a minor quibble. More important is the disconnection between musical quality and sonic quality. Although all of the Kufala discs sound substantially better than most actual bootleg recordings, this one is more muffled and distant than the others, and that's especially frustrating because so many of the performances at this concert were ferociously good. The band's version of "Bus to Beelzebub," usually a solid winner in a live setting, is positively blistering here, and this rendition of "Sugar Free Jazz" squashes the studio version like a grape. "Blue Eyed Devil" (another song that tends to thrive on-stage) is given a rollicking performance that incorporates gleefully snide quotes from "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" and "I Will Always Love You." Perhaps best of all, though, is a swinging and extra-funky arrangement of "Uh, Zoom Zip" near the end of the set. "The Woolly Imbibe" is a nice surprise, a non-album track that seems to have come out of nowhere. If the sound were sharper and fuller, this would qualify on its own as one of Soul Coughing's finest albums.

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