The recently reunited original lineup of Live — Ed Kowalczyk (vocals, guitar), Chad Taylor (guitar, backing vocals), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass), and Chad Gracey (drums, percussion) — have announced they’ll mark the 25th anniversary of their 1991 debut full-length album, Mental Jewelry, with a deluxe reissue digitally and physically via Radioactive/Geffen/UMe on August 11, 2017. (Naturally, we here at HRAC expect a hi-res download version to follow suit.)
For the package, Kowalczyk wrote liner notes about the band’s beginnings, including their monthly gigs at CBGB before they were signed to Radioactive Records: “Hilly [Kristal, the club’s late owner] typically didn’t pay bands for showcase-type gigs, but he would give us $100 for gas for the 3-hours-plus commute from old York [Pennsylvania].”
The newly remastered package features an unreleased studio track (“Born Branded”) from the album’s original sessions; a club remix of “Pain Lies on the Riverside” by Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee; two songs from the band’s September 1991 EP Four Songs; and an unreleased 1992 full concert at The Roxy in Los Angeles.
The 25th anniversary release of Mental Jewelry will be celebrated with colored vinyl, standard vinyl, cassette, and a Deluxe Edition two-CD set. Produced by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, the album was originally released on December 31, 1991, and includes the singles “Pain Lies on the Riverside” and “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition).”
Currently on a world tour (see dates here), Live recently premiered “Pain Lies on the Riverside” from the Roxy show. Click here to listen to the song, which begins with Kowalczyk shouting, “The riverside is where I walk!” It’s also the instant-grat track if you pre-order the album now. Click here for more information.
“I was really surprised to hear and experience again how fully formed we were as a young band by the time we played the Roxy show,” Kowalczyk told Rolling Stone. Chad Taylor elaborates, “For the most part, the audience was experiencing our songs for the first time. This meant that the band couldn’t rely on singles to keep the show’s momentum. We had already extended many of the album arrangements to carry us through a headlining set, and this included ‘Pain Lies on the Riverside,’ a future single. There are so many improvised moments throughout the entire recording. We had to sell the drama of each song, and you can tell that we’re both excited and nervous to perform in Los Angeles. The raw energy is something I doubt we could duplicate.”
Kowalczyk, in a statement from the band, noted: “It’s really cool that we have this unreleased material from virtually all of the Live studio albums, and that the limitations of the various media that we experienced early in our career have vanished with the digital/online revolution. Fans can look forward to more!”
Taylor adds, “Jerry Harrison deserves a lot of credit for getting so many early songs recorded. Radioactive [Records] gave the band a budget for 12 masters, but Jerry, a veteran recording artist, sent a lo-fi demo that included 14 or 15 tracks to the label. He suggested that the label pick the 12 songs that would make the album. Since the album was initially released on vinyl, we were limited by the media format and over time, [and] we simply forgot about the extra songs. Thankfully, this new release really captures the spirit of that era!”
Looking back at the full Roxy show, does Live have any advice now for their younger selves? Says Kowalczyk, “I really don’t have any advice for Live circa 1992. Actually, it’s the reverse in a way; the experience of rediscovering the Roxy show recording is a window through which the sun of that youthful energy has shown on us again, helping to remind us of where we’ve been but more importantly, to inspire the way forward.” Concludes Taylor, “I’m not sure the younger version of myself would listen to any advice I could offer, but I would be sure to tell myself to enjoy the ride, and to take care of each other.”
LIVE: MENTAL JEWELRY: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION – TRACK LISTING