Monday, August 14, 2017

Live – Mental Jewelry 25th Anniversary Reissue

The year 1991 was an absolutely amazing year for music.  Monumentally classic albums from Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many, many more were released that year, forever altering mainstream music.  Another great yet somewhat overlooked album released that year was Mental Jewelry, the debut album from Philadelphia alternative rock band Live.  Vocalist/guitarist Ed Kowalczyk, guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey went into the studio with producer Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and created an album with socio-political and spiritual lyrics set to music that combined the anthemic and big-hearted earnestness of U2 and R.E.M.’s jangly college rock with touches of funk and folk for good measure.  On the strength of the standout singles, “Pain Lies On The Riverside and “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)”, Mental Jewelry went multi-platinum, setting up Live for a long successful run of hits. 
Now, after a lengthy hiatus during which frontman Kowalczyk left the band for a spell, the band reunited last December and is currently on a worldwide reunion tour.  In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of Mental Jewelry, the band and Radioactive/Geffen/Ume Records have just released a deluxe reissue of the album. The newly remastered album is available now on vinyl for the first time in a long time on purple or standard black and also on purple cassette.  The Deluxe Edition of the album is a 2-CD set that includes the original album as well as 4 extra tracks including a club remix of “Pain Lies On The Riverside” by Hank Shocklee and “Born Branded” an previously unreleased studio track recorded during the Mental Jewelry sessions as well as “Negation” and Heaven Wore A Shirt” from the band’s 1991 Four Songs EP.  Additionally, a previously unreleased live recording of a 13-song 1992 concert recorded at The Roxy in Los Angeles completes the set.     
Recently, I interviewed Ed Kowalczyk of Live about their reformation, the possibility of new music and more for the Dayton City Paper in preview of their Rock On The Range performance in May.  (Originally posted here:
Live reformed late last year with original vocalist Ed Kowalczyk rejoining the original lineup for the first time since 2009. What was the impetus for the reformation, and has all of the bad blood been forgiven?
Ed Kowalczyk: I believe the old cliché of “time heals all wounds” applies here for sure. The space that the break created between us allowed the reemergence of all of the amazing history we shared together to come to the surface. I can definitely say that the current “spark” we feel together on-stage and off wouldn’t be as strong had we not taken the break that we did. We are chomping at the bit to get back out and do what we do!
What song are you most excited about to play live again and why?
EK: All of them! Come back to me after a few dozen shows and I will try to whittle it down…but seriously, there is such a level of excitement about doing this again, that I am really looking forward to all of it.
I know it’s early, but are there plans to record any new music and if so, where are you in that process?
EK: We started writing music and experimenting in the studio almost immediately following the first reconnect that we had as a band. We are keeping it really fun and not putting any deadlines on ourselves for an album, etc. That said, we probably have five or six songs that we are excited about. Some sound like classic Live, if you would; some are pushing the boundaries a bit.

Stream “Pain Lies On The Riverside (Live From The Roxy 1992)” here: 


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