As if to acknowledge that Barenaked Ladies' third album, 1996's Born on a Pirate Ship, was a blunder that wouldn't do much to advance the Canadian group's U.S. image, Reprise Records quickly followed it up with the live set Rock Spectacle. This was a wise move, as years of nearly nonstop touring had helped the group transform from a jokey folk-rock group into a talented pop group with both musical chops and stage presence to burn. Though the album doesn't include much of what makes Barenaked Ladies such a unique live act, singer-guitarists Steven Page and Ed Robertson are masters of improvisational humor, and a good chunk of any Barenaked Ladies show is given to often hilarious extemporaneous bits -- it certainly makes the point that the group is an underrated source of pure pop delights. This album's superior live take of 1992's "Brian Wilson" became Barenaked Ladies' first U.S. radio hit, setting the stage for the across-the-board success of 1998's excellent Stunt.
Rock Spectacle Review
by Stewart Mason