At first listen, you will notice that this live album is a little different to other punk live albums, for example 'I Heard They Suck Live' by NOFX. There's very little talking in between songs, and this album is not compiled to sound like you're actually at the concert, but an example of the music Bad Religion play when they're performing live on stage. The recording to this album is different in that the output from the instruments is split between the sound system at the concerts, and the recording equipment. So what you actually hear when listening to this album is the music that is being performed. Audience input is minimal, as what is heard is what is picked up from the microphones on stage. There are no microphones in the crowd to create a bit of atmosphere. In my opinion, this is a good thing as what you hear is the music alone, and not audience noises which in some cases can spoil the enjoyment of the music. However, some people may beg to differ.
The performing of each song is fantastic, confirming the idea that Bad Religion are a amazing live band. The song 'Part III' on this is incredible. It sounds so much better than it did recorded. This is definately one of the stand out tracks, along with 'American Jesus', '10 in 2010', 'Punk Rock Song', 'Recipe For Hate', 'God Song', 'No Direction' and the mighty 'Generator'.
Every member of Bad Religion sounds great on this album, performing their parts incredibly well. This includes Greg Graffin, who's voice seems to get better and better the more you listen to it.
A major advantage to this album is the lack of conversation in between songs.... Read more ›
For some bands however, they drop straight into a groove and stick with it. Bands like AC/DC, Motorhead, Manowar and Deicide are not far removed from their original sound, even two or three decades into their careers. Bad Religion is another which could be added to that list.
One of the inadvertent architects of the current pop punk sound which emanates from Southern California, Bad Religion found their musical feet early in their careers, and have done very nicely with it ever since. Unlike many of the pretenders to the SoCal punk throne however, Bad Religion are better live than in the studio. 'Tested' is testament to this fact.
"Live" energy is often difficult to transfer to an album, but Bad Religion manages it here. Lots of crowd noise does not equate to live energy, and Bad Religion didn't even bother to record crowd noise. Any crowd noise you hear on the album comes through the bands' mikes. The liner notes go into depth about how the album was recorded. To summarise it all, Bad Religion recorded everything live, cheaply but effectively, and then reassembled it into what equates to a live "Best Of..." album.
The results show a lot of thought and preparation was put into recording. The guitars have a rougher edge than in the studio, and vocalist Greg Graffin's vocals are raspier. The melodies in the vocals, backing vox and guitar lines and counter-lines are near perfect, and there are even nuances apparent which are missing from the studio albums.
There are mistakes and adlibs all over the place, one of the best being when Greg Graffin starts the crowd in Dortmund on the wrong key for the opening verse of "Generator". Elsewhere, the odd guitar solo is slightly off key, and the backing vocals are sometimes a little out of tune or drowned out. For fans of live albums, it's a pure delight to hear.
As for highlights, well, this is Bad Religion. There aren't any. That's to say, the entire album is incredibly consistent, and is an accurate record of the band's back catalogue up until 1996. Nothing sounds out of place, and everything sounds like it could be from any of the band's album. While this lack of musical development may annoy the hell out of self-important, pseudo-intellectual critics, it's exactly what the band want to play, and what their fans want to hear. It may be predictable, it may have been done before, but so what? 'Tested' ROCKS!
I have all BR's studio albums still in print, so I'm obviously a fan. But honestly, each album offers between 4-6 real standout tracks along with a bunch of mildly appealing soundalikes. "Tested" acts as both a testament to BR's skill as a band -- they're not just a studio creation -- and as a sort of "greatest hits" package. Culled from well over 1,000 song performances during a 1996 world tour, there isn't a dud in the bunch. The fact that the 'cut and paste' approach to compiling these tracks tends to negate any of the real concert feel is a minor complaint.
Another relief was the rather bulky Greg Graffin-penned booklet included with the disc. Expecting plenty of the sometimes tiresome political rants that are the beef of Graffin's lyrics, I instead got a detailed run-down of the recording process itself, which you may or may not find interesting. If nothing else, it does demonstrate an emphasis on the music itself, rather than on politics. For me, this is welcome.
In short, this immediately became my favorite BR album, and for no deeper reason than it sounds great and collects nothing but memorable tracks. Why it's not a U.S. release I'll never understand, but spend the few extra bucks and get it now.
This band found their style very early in their carreer and they have not changed it at all, even with all of the MTV pre-made poo that we are subjected to on a daily basis. Bad Religion still have the ability to write their own lyrics, and sound exactly the same as they did 10 years ago.
This album is living proof that this band sounds just as good live, if not better, than they do straight out of the studio.
I love hearing a song that I know and love in a different manner. It's especially good if you are drunk and want to sing along, but feel bad that you can never sound as good as they do.
If you are looking for a greatest hits album, get All Ages, if you wanna hear some of your favorite BR songs LIVE, get this one. Hell, get them both. I think that anyone who has anything to say about how the world is today needs to listen to a good BR album. Long live BR!!!! Come play in WV dammit!!!!
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