VML Live Presents the Effigies

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Although this five-song, 14-minute 7" document of 1995's best concert is recorded from the room instead of the mixing board, it's professionally done with several mics, hence the compressed sound is hot instead of flat and bad bootleg-like. It thus captures the truly triumphant comeback (for four shows only, all in their native Chicago) of one of the finest, most forward-thinking punk bands in U.S. history, all four original members intact. Singer John Kezdy sounds as tough as nails as ever, and as smart, as he barks/howls with commanding presence his way through a searing "Bodybag" as guitarist Earl Letiecq and mates rage, storm, simmer, grind, and roar behind him. Holy cow, does this cut make one wish the reunion wasn't of such an intentionally limited duration! It's ashen hot in execution, determination, and pure "We've still got it" attitude. Not far behind are "Course in Vain," a hellacious "No Progress," "Strongbox" (with a mistake, so what!), and the early Gang of Four-and-P.I.L.-meets-Stranglers hypnotic majesty of "Security," another performance that blows away the recorded version in might and crunch. Now this is a succinct souvenir. Buy the ace Remains Nonviewable retrospective on Touch and Go first, but don't miss this either. (P.O. Box 183, Franklin, IL 60131)