There is always cause for concern when a promising new artist follows up a solid debut with a live album rehashing all the same material. After seeing Erykah Badu steal the "Smokin Grooves Tour" in the summer of 1996, however, it only makes sense that her record company decided to release Live
as a stopgap between her next studio recording. To put it mildly, the Badu live experience is anything but typical. There is a kindred bond between the singer and her audiences which translates wonderfully onto the disc. It's in the warmth of the songs, the intimacy with which Badu addresses the crowd, and the constant chants of "Erykah!" emanating from the masses. For her part, Badu does a wonderful job revisiting the material from her superb debut Baduizm
. She also takes on an assortment of covers, ranging from Roy Ayers's "Searching" to the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long", making each one sound distinctly her own. The most captivating moment, though, is a new number called "Tyrone", in which she most eloquently tells a dense boyfriend to take a hike. --Aidin Vaziri
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