The Clarks

Still Live

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The Clarks are like a quartet of Marshall Crenshaws, four purveyors of twangy, rootsy power pop that's both fearless in its unapologetic lack of fashion consciousness and 100 percent rooted in rock & roll classicism. Still Live is the band's second live album, recorded during a four-night stint at a theater in the band's hometown of Pittsburgh in celebration of their 20th anniversary. Singer Scott Blasey no longer lives in the band's rust belt home base (making the group a part-time concern nowadays), but there's no sense of either nostalgia or farewell on these 16 tracks, which are uniformly lean and tightly performed three-minute/three-chord nuggets about cars (fast), girls (ditto), and all the other tenets of the rock & roll gospel. Blasey and lead guitarist Rob James are a solid front team ably supported by the no-frills rhythm section of bassist Greg Joseph and drummer Dave Minarik; the foursome toss off fan faves like "Better off Without You" and "Boys Lie" with effortless ease that never lapses into the soulless robotics of, say, the post-1981 Rolling Stones. In a fairer world, perhaps, the Clarks would be headlining arenas at this point in the twilight of their career, but Still Live shows that straight-ahead, unpretentious pop still has its place. [Also available as a DVD]

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