23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2003
Anybody who's seen the Handsome Family live will know that their studio albums only tell half the story.
Their songs are an entrancing blend of old time country and whacked out wonder, chronicling grim tales of death and disturbance but shot through with Rennie Sparks' childlike views on the Universe. Here sisters are bitten by snakes, deep dark waters claim swimmers and people fall asleep with blood on their teeth. And yet here, also, poodles think they're cowboys, cathedrals look like spaceships and the hills are littered with empty wheelchairs and discarded hearing aids in a land where we'll never grow old.
Imagine a supergroup consisting of Johnny Cash, Edward Gorey and Emo Phillips.
Live, you get the fantastic songs, but you also get the gloriously batty between tracks banter from husband and wife team Brett & Rennie. As far as I can recall from the two occasions when I've been to see them, it almost always arises as Brett is hunched over his drum machine, struggling to find the right track, guitar dangling heavily around his neck. Rennie fills the time with hilarious musings and anecdotes ( often about Brett: at one point he whimpers at her " I am in the f***in' room, you know ! " )
This album captures the spirit of my favourite live act, so of course I'm recommending it. I can't wait 'til they come back and when they do I'm bringing lots of my friends to see them. And the friends I brought to the last gig will be bringing lots of their friends too. Listen to this album and you'll undoubtedly feel the same way.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2010
I feel somehow the Handsome Family music has changed my life a little. Some people regard their work as depressing I've heard say, but to the contrary, it is the World which is generally depressing, it's just The Handsome family and in particular Rennie Sparks lyrics have the handle on it. In fact it is uplifting and moving though still acknowledging the darker side of life. The music is gorgeous too and Brett Sparks' wonderful baritone voice just adds the gravy. The CD in question is a live performance as the title intimates. Some of the tracks are actually better in the live performance than the studio versions and you get Rennie and Brett's banter as a plus. It is wonderful - please buy it - they probably could do with the money as they appear impervious to pandering to commercial frippary and appear to remain refreshingly modest. Such beautiful, beautiful music. Previously I thought Schubert had the monopoly on this with his later sonatas. I am serious and considered when I tell you, the Handsome Family have their stake in this 'monopoly' also - amongst others maybe. This is the eighth album of theirs I have bought and there are no duds anywhere. How many other others can you say this about?