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King's X - Live Love In London CD (album) cover

LIVE LOVE IN LONDON

King's X

 

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2.87 | 15 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'Live Love In London' - King's X (4/10)

A band that has no doubt stood the test of time, all the while maintaining a highly loyal fanbase, there's no denying that American groove rock act King's X has what it takes to make it in the music world. As a very casual listener of the band, I had grown a meager appreciation for their eclectic, distinct style and a handful of the songs I had heard, but until listening to the band's double disc live album 'Live Love In London,' I had little experience listening to this group, and therefore little preconception as to what I would hear on it. While I can certainly see King's X's performance here being an enjoyable ordeal for an existing fan, some questionable recording value, a generally unremarkable performance and some fairly inconsistent song quality makes 'Live Love In London' a pretty mediocre, if functional live release from this band.

The vast majority of the songs picked for 'Live Love' take the shape of groovy, riff-based hard rockers, mostly led by the gospel-derived vocals of frontman Doug Pinnick. With your typical live album opening of crowd ambiance and cheering, 'Groove Machine' kicks in, and instantly gives a general impression of what a good three quarters of the two discs is comprised of; some basic, but interesting grooves, some minor improvisations here and there, and the bluesy vocals of Pinnick driving the melody along. While the songwriting here (and on many of the other songs listed here) are quite good, the live performance does not feel as if it adds anything to the original recorded versions of the songs, which- to me- is what a live album should be all about.

In terms of the band's performance here, the vocal work of Pinnick can take some getting used to, but it's clear after a few tracks that he has a powerful voice that he knows how to use well. Better still are the vocals of Ty Tabor which pop up in a few songs, which while aren't as booming as Pinnick's, feel as if they have a wider emotional range, as is well- shown on the first disc's highlight 'Pleiades'. Instrumentally, the real star is Tabor, whose rocking solos are one of the album's biggest saving graces.

While the first disc is pretty basic and doesn't offer much more than the typical funk/groove hard rock songwriting of King's X, things do start getting more interesting with the second half of 'Live Love.' The cornerstone of disc two is certainly the jam-based piece 'Over My Head,' which finally shows the band taking advantage of the live milieu, and letting loose for a while. While the track begins as a pretty typical piece of funk rock, the track begins to break down into some more solo-based improvisation, finally culminating in a passionate speech from Doug Pinnick concerning music, it's power, and how much it truly means to him. While I'm not a King's X fan, it's hard not to be moved by the voice of sincerity in the words, and the absolutely wild crowd reaction that his oratory provides, as if Pinnick was speaking to each person in the arena individually. The other highlight on the second disc is 'Goldilox,' which again shows the potential for magic in live performance; this time around, it is the entire audience that sings the lyrics from start to finish! These moments of hope in 'Live Love' are quite sparse however, being interspersed amidst plenty of unmentionable tracks that would be better listened to as a studio recording any day.

One of the other issues 'Live Love' suffers from is the production. While you can hear each musician and the audience, the mixing here is pretty poorly executed. The vocals and rhythm guitar sections unfortunately tune out much of the bass and drum work, and the entire thing is pretty muddy in the way it sounds. Once or twice, some tracks cut out almost entirely, only to return a few seconds later. Even if the performance here was exemplary, a bad production and recording of a concert can spell instant death for a live album.

'Live Love In London' is clearly an album meant to cater to the very fans that have kept King's X going for so long. However, it is far too flawed to be worth much more than the small handful of standout moments the performance here lends.

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |

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