Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Public Enemy - Revolverlution Tour '03 3xLP


Culture Factory (2024)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Number three in my 2024 Record Store Day pickups is this Public Enemy live album.  I’ve gone on record many times (including just two weeks ago) as not being a big fan of live albums.  This wasn’t even on my shopping list for the day, but when I was looking through things day of, I scanned the track list of this and thought that there were enough hits present that it was worth picking up.  Plus as a triple LP, it was fairly reasonably priced in comparison to some others.  The clincher was I had a gift card from selling some old posters to the store a few months ago, so I added it to the pile. 

I’ve never had the chance to see Public Enemy live, something I absolutely intend to correct next time they are playing anywhere near me.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, especially after the Ultramagnetic live album.  What I discovered when I put this guy on the turntable is that this album is Public Enemy backed by a live band.  There’s still a DJ and some of the classic production pops up here and there, but for the most part it’s Chuck and Flavor in front of a rock band. They still play the hits, and the vast majority of the tracks are from the group’s first four albums.  The band is very tight and Chuck and Flavor are super energetic frontmen.  

In general I like the album, but there’s definitely a little bit of weirdness scattered throughout.  The one thing that really jumped out at me is that it seems like they are rapping over a vocal track sometimes.  It’s particularly prominent on Flavor Flav songs, but every so often you hear it for Chuck D as well.  I can’t really figure out what’s going on with Chuck, it’s possible he picked a couple of random times to use a vocal track, though it may be just as likely that he just has a particularly energetic additional hype man that creates the feeling of a double vocal track.  I’m not sure, but luckily it only happens in a few places. 

The other bit of oddness is for pretty much an entire side of the third LP, Chuck and Flavor vanish and some other people play some other rap/rock songs that I’m not at all familiar with.  I like that it seems this is a full, uncut show, but I don’t listen to a Public Enemy record to hear other people who I don’t think are in Public Enemy.  Again, just a little odd.  

As far as my usual ambivalence to live albums, I’m not sure this one changes my mind too much.  It’s a cool listen and absolutely makes me want to see them live even more than I did before, but it’s not the sort of thing I see myself listening to all that often.  But if you were on the fence on picking it up, it’s pretty cheap on Discogs right now, so it’s not an expensive chance to take if you are thinking about taking the plunge. 

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