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Album Review

It's one thing to conjure up the sound and style of the past in the recording studio, where you can use old microphones and beat-up tape machines to help the illusion stick, but it's another matter to make the sort of 1960s revivalism that has long been the Chesterfield Kings' bread and butter sound real and compelling in front of an audience. More than 25 years since the release of their first album, Chesterfield Kings leaders Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk have had plenty of time to practice their fusion of the Rolling Stones and the Nuggets box set in front of fans all over the world, and on their first ever live album, Live Onstage … If You Want It, the Kings sound like the seasoned live act they are, deadly accurate while kicking up a healthy head of swagger on 16 tunes that zoom past in a mere 45 minutes. The Chesterfield Kings don't break any new ground on this set, but in the truest sense, they've always been about sifting through the old soil instead, and they manage to make their songs sound fresh and exciting, even when they're not exactly innovative (all the songs are band originals except for Merle Haggard's classic "Sing Me Back Home," though you might mistake a few of the tunes for covers at first glance). Prevost's Jagger-isms on lead vocals work well and sound more effective than what Mick himself has had to offer in ages, while guitarist Paul Morabito channels the style of dozens of lost garage rock heroes with effortless skill, and Babiuk and Mike Boise are a killer rhythm section. The majority of the set list was drawn from 2003's The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings and 2007's Psychedelic Sunrise (with a detour through the 1994 Stones homage Let's Go Get Stoned), and it would have been fun to hear the band dig up a few dusties from Here Are the Chesterfield Kings or Stop!, but what's here demonstrates that for a band that believes nothing worthwhile happened after 1973, they're truly delivering the goods in the 21st century, and that's more than you can say for a lot of the bands that inspired them. [The CD release also comes with a bonus DVD that preserves the same set in a polished multi-camera shoot, and the band looks just about as good as they round, though Prevost's hair does start to droop a bit by the end of the show.]


Formed: 1979

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Upstate New York's Chesterfield Kings landed upon the growing punk/new wave scene in the late '70s with an unbelievably raw '60s rhythm & blues sound that borrowed heavily from pre-1966 Rolling Stones. The group, so unlike any other underground sensations of the period, arguably kickstarted the entire '80s garage rock revival, which flourished in small circles until the end of the decade. After releasing two scene-defining LPs, Here Are the Chesterfield Kings and Stop!, the combo changed its lineup...
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Live Onstage… If You Want It, The Chesterfield Kings
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