Though it seems odd that a double-live album could serve as a band's breakthrough release, Live
shows the band clearly building upon the strengths of their previous studio albums while avoiding their excesses. Without a string section to back them up -- or to smother them, depending on your thinking -- the band draws more heavily on its rhythm section and on the tonal colorings of Wolstenholme
's Mellotron, the latter most clearly on "The Great 1974 Mining Disaster." The rich harmonies, political content, and poignant twang of John Lees
songs like "For No One" come across here with the same kind of ragged majesty as Neil Young
's live work. And an epic-length "Medicine Man," unburdened of its heavy orchestral arrangement and beefed up with a newly emphasized guitar and drum parts, reveals the brawn lurking beneath the lassitude of the studio version. Overall, it's a solid live collection, and a fine starting point for those new to the band's body of work.