Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album
If any band were going to name its live record Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album, well, it was bound to be ska-punk luminaries Reel Big Fish. And they're not just being audacious -- they're probably right. Two CDs worth of music plus a bonus DVD with an entire live set make this an essential part of any RBF fan's collection. The songs were recorded over the course of their early 2006 tour, and are so clearly captured that they might as well have been recorded in a studio. The sporadic crowd response, which is neither overpowering nor inaudible, and the band's always ridiculous on-stage banter -- mostly provoked by frontman Aaron Barrett and wingman Scott Klopfenstein -- remind one that everything is indeed live. Aside from a handful of staple songs, you never quite know what Reel Big Fish will play at any given show (it's always nice not to be able to predict a band's set); consequently, this album spans their entire discography and plays out as a sort of random greatest-hits collection. Predictable favorites like "Sell Out," "Beer," "Don't Start a Band," and "She Has a Girlfriend Now" (Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer's Rachel Minton joining in on backing vocals) are present, along with ska-burnt covers like "Boys Don't Cry," "Talkin' Bout a Revolution," "Take on Me," and (of course) "Unity," though, uh, they're not obviously ska-ifying that last one. They even excellently throw in the expletive-ridden "Nothin'" for good measure. A super clean recording, on which Reel Big Fish's quirky and sardonic on-stage personas translate perfectly, makes this the next best thing to actually being at a show. Unless of course you have a giant television -- then the DVD might work out better. Just make sure, in that case, to clear out enough floor space to skank safely.