Birds of Pray
I’m guessing that the majority of today’s 13-20 year old crowd probably missed out on Live’s enormous success during the early 1990s. Their breakthrough album Throwing Copper was an album of anthemic rockers that offered a nice change of pace from the grunge that polluted mainstream radio airwaves back then.
So this is the latest from Live, subtly titled Birds of Pray (much of the album has to do with optimism, higher powers, etc.). I’ve looked at some other reviews to see what people think of this record, as I’m kind of stuck. The consensus is that Live’s best album is Throwing Copper, but I have to admit that I think that record is a contrived piece of crap. I do, however, think that their next album, Secret Samadhi, is absolutely incredible. I also really like Distance To Here. Yet, it seems that many critics feel that those two records signified the beginning of the end for Live. Go figure.
Anyway, Birds of Pray is pretty much classic Live, in that they’re not trying any new forms of music or anything. If I had to liken this one to any other record, I’d say Birds of Pray is most like Secret Samadhi. Pretty much every song totally rocks. A lot of the stuff on the boring V album, Throwing Copper and Distance To Here is ballad-esque, and Live sounds best when they’re making a racket. The album’s opening track, “Heaven,” which I’m sure you’re heard on the radio by now, is instantly recognizable as Live. It’s a heck of a rockin’ anthem (although the lyrics about “looking at my daughter” are kind of corny). The powerful guitars continue throughout the entire record, with high points including the fist-pumper “Like I Do,” which sounds as is it might be a single. “Lighthouse” has a really chunky, distorted bassline, with really big guitars and lead singer Ed Kowalczyk belting it out. I enjoy this song the best, as it instantly stuck in my head. Another rocker worth checking out is “Bring People Together.” It’s got up-tempo and driving drums, partially palm muted guitars that explode in the chorus, and a 100% sing along chorus.
I guess what I like best about Birds of Pray is that even the songs that teeter on being overly emotional drivel, a la “Lightning Crashes,” end up finding a way to rock out. But, this is 2003, and people are not listening to alternative rock on mainstream radio these days. Live hasn’t changed much since the early 1990s, but the tastes of the mainstream sure have. I just don’t know if the record buying public still wants to hear this kind of music. Regardless, Birds of Pray is as good as anything they’ve done before, and less contrived and posturing than the mighty Throwing Copper.