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For those of you wondering what the title of my reviews means. Just dive into the history of The Sex Pistols. Yes, a band that had been covered by Anthrax on two occasions earlier. Well, feeling cheated is exactly what happens after spending money on ‘Live (The Island Years)’.
Just like with Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth etcetera etcetera, the Anthrax fans would never see a regular full length live album during the eighties. Thrash bands just didn’t do that yet. Vinyl bootlegs were all around of course but you never knew what they’d sound like and from time to time you just tried one or two, just to have some live stuff and more than half the time you'd be utterly disappointed by the quality of such things. But releasing this officially, two years after Belladonna had left Anthrax, was flogging a dead horse. Cheap cashing in even, since the sound quality of this release is hardly acceptable.
We have 8 songs from a regular concert but with a muddy wall of sound, bereft of all dynamics. The sound is flooded by the guitars which often lack sharpness. It sounds like not much effort has been made to clean up these recordings to make them an acceptable official release and worthy of spending your hard earned money. No, if you wanted the full enjoyment of Anthrax in their prime live with Joey, your best bet around the time of this release would still be getting your hands on the 1987 Oidivnikufesin video.
Now 8 songs with a highly debatable sound is one thing, but filling up the album with alleged live songs with a studio audience wrecks the last credibility. Yes, the songs are performed live and one can hear some audience. However this time the production is thin, flat, lacks energy and aggression. So this time it’s too tame and not really ‘live’ as we would like it, again a setback.
I’ve seen Anthrax live in those days and this album doesn’t do them any justice whereas a lot of live records from other artists were polished up, even had some parts re-recorded, giving the impression a band was even better than it actually was. Nah, the label just had some stuff laying around. Didn’t bother to clean it up or at least boost it up a little and just threw it in the faces of those remembering the days of Anthrax with Joey or even those who had missed them and could finally get a change to hear them perform live.
History was blemished. This hasn’t been set straight until 2007, when finally ‘Caught in a Mosh: BBC Live in Concert’ was released with two recordings from 1987. Although they had been around on bootlegs already for many years of course. Don’t waste your cash on this release but look for those others I mentioned in my review. Apart from that, yes it’s rare to hear a live version of ‘Now It's Dark’ so for the real collectors there’s always a reason to buy just about everything. A large part of the setlists here is such a reason. So at least some points for that.
Anthrax Live ( The Island Years) is a live album featuring tracks from two different Anthrax performances, with tracks 1-8 from a performance in California in 1991 and 9-12 from a performance at a New York radio station. Both are good performances by the band which features the Among The Living/Persistence of Time lineup, despite the fact that the Cd was released during the John Bush Anthrax era.
The first 8 tracks feature a good set list consisting of Anthrax's most popular songs ( Caught in a Mosh, AIR, Keep It in the Family), and some less played songs ( Parasite which is a Kiss cover, and Bring the Noise, which feature Public Enemy with Anthrax). During the concert, the band plays very well, with Joey hitting all of his notes. Also, as I am a Kiss fan I really liked the Parasite cover, which is not something regularly played by Anthrax. As always, the rhythm section of Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, and Frank Bello are flawless and really create that signature Anthrax sound. Dan Spitz plays all of the solos well, however his performance doesn't really have any great solos that stick out as being far superior to the album version solos.
The last four tracks are from the live show at the Radio station which is great. This portion of the cd is great because they play Metal Thrashing Mad, which isn't played too frequently and Now it's Dark, my favorite song off of State of Euphoria, which is also a rare song live. The only mistake on this show is about two minutes into I am the law one of the guitars stops playing, I assume due to technical difficulties. However, this just gives it a good live feel and makes the song better in the end.
While much has been said about the production of the album being subpar, it sounds fine to me. Both shows have all of the instruments mixed well and the crowd isn't too quiet or too loud on the first 8 songs.
I would recommend this album to serious Anthrax fans or any Anthrax fan looking for a good live Anthrax album. I would recommend this to serious Anthrax fans due to the performances of some less played songs like Now It's Dark and Parasite. Also, this album is good for a casual fan looking for Anthrax live album because it features alot of the most popular Anthrax songs like Caught In a Mosh and Keep It In The Family.
You can tell this was released by Island to make some quick cash, there is just something missing from the recording. It’s flat and at times it feels uninspired, but that’s not to say it not worth picking if you see it for a decent price. Although the recording is bad there are moments were things come together and the band shines through.
There is a good overall selection of songs from Anthrax’s discography, some things shouldn’t be on here, Bring the Noise for one, which sounds very out of place on the album and the crowd is just not into it at all. In fact one of the more annoying things about the recording is the interaction with the crowd, a good crowd can make or break a live album, this is also a sore point for the Island Years. Joey tries to interact with the crowd is clumsy matter that is an annoyance throughout.
Now that we’ve went over that’s bad, I should point out some good things. First of all, the band is tight, there aren’t any glaring mistakes and the bass is high in the mix, something I enjoy about Anthrax. Joey pulls of a decent performance, and certainly doesn’t ruin any of the songs.
Overall there is nothing that’s make this worth owning, but there’s nothing that makes it a pile of crap, it’s just sort of there.
Most live albums by metal bands are better than the studio albums. There is a certain energy that metal bands have live that really cannot be captured when you have 754 takes to get it right. However, if such atmosphere is not captured, the album tends to be a mixed bag.
This is one of those albums. The performance is unquestionable - Anthrax giving it their all - but the recording is just flat and lifeless. The footage was shot, but never used, until the record label wanted to milk Anthrax (who had jumped ship to Elektra or something) one last time, so they released some stock footage - part of a concert (10000 people) and part of a live-in-the-studio thing (60 people).
The setlist is pretty decent, though they only play two songs from the latest album at the time, Persistence of TIme (Keep it in the Family and In My World). They do a lot of the Among the Living album, which seems to be their favourite, even though I vehemently disagree... at least they do the classic Caught in a Mosh and the almost as good Efilnikufesin, but they ruin it with the average Indians and the bad I am the Law. They also do Bring the Noise, and one or more of the dudes from Public Enemy join them.
Also, the album suffers from a total lack of continuity - 7 songs from one place and 5 from another, from a time when they were headlining with 15-song sets. This is not a must-have album. There are bootlegs that are better than this, really.