Pain lies on the riverside
And Pain will never say goodbye
Pain Lies on the Riverside
So put you feet in the water
Put your head in the water
Put your soul in the water
And join me for a swim tonight
I have forever, always tried
To stay clean and constantly baptized
I am aware that the river’s banks are dry
And to wait for a flood
Is to wait for life
I assume these are somewhat confessional, evangelical lyrics. But, maybe the members of Live were just taking a point of view? Certainly, the language on their albums is R-rated and, at times, rather sophomoric: “She’s a bitch, but I don’t care–everybody deserves some change”. So, who knows? Not that Christians can’t belt out a foul words from time to time. . . .
And, yet, whatever religious or anti-religious or possibly just tacky side the band possessed, they could also craft gorgeous and meaningful rock songs.
One of my favorite rock albums of the 1990s was Live’s THROWING COPPER (1995). It’s hard to believe the album is 20 years old, as the music and the production have nicely stood the test of time. Putting THROWING COPPER on the stereo does not evoke nostalgia but freshness. Really, these songs sound as crisp today as they did two decades ago. Not that it’s perfect. Indeed, the lyrics (just referenced) to “Waitress,” for example, are downright embarrassing and a bit painful. The same is true with “Shit Towne.”
Yet, take the opening track to the “Dam at Otter Creek.” Simply astounding, driving, no compromise rock. While not lyrically complex, they do very effectively offer a drama of one time and one place a time and place that, through this song, has now become eternal. A death and a burial. Simple, yet universal.
“I Alone,” track three, offers a penetration look at tyranny and control, perhaps from religious manipulation. The anger in the song is palpable, as it should be.
Track five, “Lightning Crashes,” deals with the glories and horrors of birth and death. Angels appear, but it’s unclear if they’re agents of mercy or agents of death.
Track seven, “All Over You,” is simply an east coast version of a Pearl Jam-style tune. Very effective.
Track nine, “T.B.D.” has a great bass line, very U2ish. And, here, the lyrics are, again, evocative of ecstasy and frustration.
After their 1997 album, SECRET SAMADHI, I lost track of the band.