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O.C. Supertones
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LIVE VOL. 1 (2002)
Live Vol. 1 - Click to view! Live recordings as a whole have generally failed to impress me. After all, what is a live album but a "best of" record with background noise? Therefore I was adamantly skeptic when The Supertones released Live! Volume 1, a collection of hits performed live in Seattle, Washington, during their Loud and Clear Tour. Determined to prove myself wrong, I listened, listened again, and then listened some more, and I can securely say that from the opening repeated chanting of "Supertones!" to the final chord of "Strike Back," I remained avidly bored.

Forget about expecting anything different or remotely exciting about Live! While the concert has plenty of energy behind it, it's likely that this album won't be any fun for you unless you were actually there. "Unite" kicks off the show, a decent power-packed opener for a live record, but the hype level quickly sinks after less than average performances of "Unknown," "Resolution," and "What It Comes To." The absence of Toby Mac's vocals on the latter is also a let-down, and their replacement with Matt Morginsky's own voice turns the song into nothing more than a bland facsimile of the original from Loud and Clear. "Grounded" and "Sure Shot" follow, later joined by "Away From You." Together they cast the only three songs featured from the Supertones' Chase the Sun project; a shame since that album was their best in many ways. Grasping for a reason to smile, I found a viable excuse: Crystal Lewis was entirely absent from "Away From You," her vocals replaced by the other band members'.

A three-song worship set consisting of "You Are My King (Amazing Love)," "Holiness," and "Open the Eyes of My Heart" precedes the second half of the show. Worship is a little out of the Supertones' ballpark though, and even the intimate, stripped down, acoustic feel can't save this set from going awry. Here's hoping the band never creates a worship album. Luckily, next on the set list is "Little Man," one of the 'Tones most popular ska-rock classics. Once again, the quality doesn't compare to the original version, but it's enough to get the audience back in gear for the remainder of the show. Unfortunately, aside from the closing track, "Strike Back," nothing in particular stands out among "Return of the Revolution," "So Great a Salvation," or "Who Can Be Against Me?" There is no encore - a factor that could actually be for the better - so if you want to hear the highlights of Live!, listen to the first track and then skip to the last. You won't miss much.

The OC Supertones are a stellar band, as their past works prove, but in all honesty, Live! Volume 1 has no real point behind it. Nearly all original versions of the songs exceed their live counterparts by far, and at times the noise from the crowd gets so loud and annoying that Morginsky's vocals are barely audible. This also explains the downfall in the musical quality. And surely a greatest hits CD only after four albums is far too early. Really, unless you're looking for some extra "oy's" and "hoo-ha's," forego the expenditure of purchasing this disc and put your savings toward a concert ticket or the next Supertones studio release. A Supertones fan I am, but I won't be buying Live! Volume 2.
- Rick Foux
June 2002
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