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Don Caballero - Gang Banged With a Headache and Live CD (album) cover


Don Caballero

Post Rock/Math rock

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2 stars "The first ever live album from legendary instrumental juggernaut Don Caballero" beams the notes that accompany this release from Joyful Noise out of Indianapolis, and so it is. But perhaps not the live album the quartet would envision. It is taken from a performance in Chicago just after Damon Che had reformed the group in November, 2003, and it has all the earmarks of a midrange audience recording in front of a small crowd. Which is to say if you're in the band and you've been drinking and smoking and generally played a good set and got a smile from that cute redhead at the foot of the stage and are feeling pretty good about life this sounds like a mighty fine document. It's only the next day in the sunlight that you realize you may have attributed too much to a humble tape of a fun night. I mean let's face it, you really have to like these guys to add this bumpy ride to your collection. Lucky for me I do, but the thought of foisting this rough mix on anybody, even mathrockers, conjures images of cold horror; degradation; tightly forced smiles; and deep, bewildered disappointment. This is the unclean side of progressive rock archiving, and it isn't pretty. Oh no, it isn't.

But you don't dig deep in the still fertile soil of lost music to stay clean. You do it because it must be done. God's work, it is. Eventually Damon Che should (and presumably will) mix and put out a real performance from Don Cab, something worthy of them that sounds friggin' good. Until then we have this and we'll take it, but we don't have to love it. Che's glorious old school jazz hihat intros 'Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex' from American Don, a fair warm-up for the boys. Punch-drunk 'And and and, He Lowered the Twin Down' is beaten into submission; 'In the Absence of Strong Evidence to the Contrary,One May Step Out of the Way of the Charging Bull' finds a groove; And the confusion of 'Let's Face it Pal,You Haven't Lived Afro Pop' reaches the merciless onslaught in 'Belted Sweater' with a taste of Thrash. Indecipherable mess 'Palm Trees in the Fecking Bahamas' and familiar 'I Never Liked You' are met with a loud and enthusiastic crowd and the gig ends with the skipping LP funk-o-rama of 'From the Desk of Elsewhere Go'.

I don't doubt the performance and had I been there would probably have had a thoroughly good time. But a show heard is not a show seen, and therefore must have a higher standard of playability and consideration for the listener. Someday we'll get the live album this group is capable of. But this ain't it.

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Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | Review Permalink

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