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Album Review

The spiritual qualities in Live's music have often inspired comparisons to Bono and U2, and some admirers have noted the parallels between Ed Kowalczyk's reflections and the imagery that John Lennon employed. But there's another valid comparison that one doesn't often hear: Earth, Wind & Fire. Live's alternative rock sounds nothing like EWF's soul and funk, but lyrically, they do have something in common: an ability to get a positive, uplifting message across without being wimpy. EWF had some of the most gutsy, rump-shaking funk grooves of the '70s, and yet, their lyrics were undeniably spiritual; similarly, Live's fifth album, V, feeds the listeners' mind, spirit, and intellect without letting the body down. Those who think of Live as the conscience of post-grunge alternative rock won't be disappointed by the intelligence and spirituality the Pennsylvanians bring to "People Like You," "Simple Creed," and other enriching tracks. But for all of its thoughtfulness, V has plenty of guts and grit. It also has a willingness to experiment; during the course of the album, Live incorporates everything from hip-hop to Indian music. And the Beatles are still a prominent influence; "Hero of Love," "Nobody Knows," and "Transmit Your Love" are appealing examples of the Fab Four influencing musicians no less than 31 years after their breakup. Is Live the conscience of post-grunge alterna-rock? Reading V's lyric sheet, it would be difficult to argue with that assertion. But Live's ability to get a positive message across doesn't make this album any less edgy — in fact, V is among the band's most confident and inspired releases.


Formed: 1988 in York, PA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Live rose to success on the strength of its anthemic music and idealistic, overtly spiritual songwriting, two hallmarks that earned the group frequent comparisons to U2. The group's roots stretched back to the early '80s, when future members Chad Taylor (guitar), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass), and Chad Gracey (drums) began playing together under the name "First Aid" while attending middle school in York, Pennsylvania. After losing an area talent contest,...
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V, Live
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