Album Cover

Produced by Scott Humphrey and Rob Zombie. Vocals - Rob Zombie. Guitars - John Five. Bass - Piggy D. Drums - Tommy Clufetos.

As in-demand a live album as a project like this invariably would be, there are at least a dozen ways to fuck it up and leave fans feeling cheated to one degree or another. Some of those ways would include, in no particular order: poorly-chosen setlist; incompetent vocal delivery; sloppy musicianship from the sparsely populated personnel; and overbearing crowd sound effects. But as his three feature films have demonstrated, Rob Zombie does not settle for half-assed product, and his first-ever live album Zombie Live reinforces that maxim.

Recorded during his tour last year supporting the Educated Horses album, this blazing and uncompromising romp wisely covers not only Zombie's solo career but also includes a healthy shot in the arm of White Zombie favorites, including a pumped and rollicking "Thunderkiss '65" during the encore. Elsewhere, "Black Sunshine" turns up in a slightly dressed-down but high energy reworking. And the group's second (and final) studio album Astro Creep 2000 is represented here by three cuts, including crowd-pleasers "Super Charger Heaven" and "More Human Than Human," plus the more obscure "Creature Of The Wheel."

Of Zombie's three solo records, both Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge are afforded four tracks each. The strongest of Hellbilly's are "Living Dead Girl," with its grinding sulk given an extra adrenaline injection, and the furiously-stomping show-closer "Dragula," which concludes with an artist-led audience chant-along of "ZOM-BIE! ZOM-BIE! ZOM-BIE!" before the pounding finish. Sinister Urge's tracks fare well also, with the shimmering "Never Gonna Stop" as a standout, as well as the high-speed "Dead Girl Superstar." Zombie also wisely works up a live rendition of "House Of 1000 Corpses," which plays even eerier as he sings without any vocal effects, essaying the creepy lyrics in a straightfaced manner over guitarist John Five's infectiously slinky and sleazy Tex-Mex guitar lick.

Educated Horses gets the biggest workout here, with five tracks in the setlist, yet that record still feels somehow underrepresented. Perhaps it's because we don't get live versions of such can't-miss selections as "The Scorpion Sleeps, " "Death Of It All" or hit single "Foxy Foxy." Still, that's a minor quibble. Maybe next tour, folks. In the meantime, instrumental intro "Sawdust In The Blood" comes over very nicely, and when "American Witch" kicks into the main set, it's all over for the doubters. Zombie's vocal seems slightly buried in the mix, but that only adds to the prophetic punch of this denunciatory tale of "twenty innocents" who are summarily hanged. Hillbilly mock-up "The Devil's Rejects" turns up towards the end of the set in a spot-on live recreation, and it is followed by the slow-churn crunch of "Lords Of Salem." Following that number, Zombie tantalizes the crowd by having Five play the intro strains to "Thunderkiss '65" two or three times--interrupting him to demand of the audience, "Do you recognize that riff?"--before launching into the song proper.

The credits list Zombie and Five plus two other musicians, Piggy D. (bass) and Tommy Clufetos (drums) as the only onstage musicians. Doubtless there is some prerecorded material involved, mainly for the sound-effect portions which retain all of the movie pull-quotes we remember from the studio versions. Who can imagine, say, "Living Dead Girl" without the cheesy "chutt-chuh-CHHHH, chutt-chuh-CHHHH" drum machine intro, infused with the line from Lady Frankenstein's trailer? It just wouldn't pass muster otherwise. But on selections like "American Witch," Five seems to be saddled with handling at least two guitar parts from the original arrangement, having to compromise one in favor of the other here and there, and it still comes across like rock manna.

With all the energy, musicianship and crowd back-and-forth chemistry any good concert set requires, Zombie Live is a damned commendable live album, and its tracks were--all "But I wanted to hear...." nattering aside--chosen well. Okay, you want setlist quibbles? Fine. "Feel So Numb" and "Two Lane Blacktop" should have been included. There, it's out of my system. Anyway, the rest of this sprawling eighteen-track opus is so too damned enjoyable to pitch a bitch over such vagaries.


Review by Petch Lucas, for Pitofhorror.com

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