Various Artists

The Best of Hard Rock Cafe Live

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The good news is that this package -- culled from three seasons of the VH1 TV series -- is more cohesive and stylistically consistent than many multi-artist collections; a few MOR forays notwithstanding, the producers seem to have stuck to acts that tend to appeal to similar audiences. The bad news is that the performances lack the surprises and departures from form that make live versions worth adding to collections that already contain the studio tracks. Instead, you get note-for-note covers without even the addition of spoken intros. The Pretenders' "Middle of the Road," Lou Reed's "Busload of Faith," and Wilco's "Outta Site, Outta Mind" are among many very listenable tracks here, but if you've already got this material on studio recordings, you won't find any revelations in this batch.

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