The Wildhearts Strikeback – The Wildhearts (released 25 October 2004)

The Wildhearts Strikeback

No, this isn’t a live music review in the traditional sense but it is a review of live music on a CD and therefore worthy of mention, in my opinion. The fact it’s by the world’s greatest band, The Wildhearts, is sheer coincidence. Honest.

When I heard that The Wildhearts were releasing a live record I was chuffed to bits because after attending their gigs for over 10 years I was dying to have a bona-fide, official memento of their superb performances. Perhaps it’s because my hopes were so high that it inevitably failed to live up to expectations.

Firstly, I should say that the track-listing is spot on – the usual blend of old, new, well-known and less well-known – mixing up songs from a couple of different shows and the fact it is a double-CD is a bonus. However, what was missing for me was the energy and enthusiasm of the live shows. Yes, it is hard, or even impossible, to portray this on record but even so I feel it is a huge dis-service to the band that their shows are left to sound this ordinary on record. Over the past 10 years I have never been to a Wildhearts show that has left me thinking anything other than, “Wow! That was fantastic!”. This CD, on the other hand, just left me thinking, “Yeah, not bad. What’s for tea?”

In the flesh the gigs are always full-on affairs with an almost Spector-like wall of sound and a crowd that roars it’s appreciation at the end of every song. On record the crowd noise merely sounds like a token gesture (which it wasn’t – I was there) and I’m unable to hear that wall of sound, even with my stereo turned up to 11. I don’t particularly want to hear minutes and minutes of pre-pubescent screaming but a little bit of madness between songs is surely a fair and accurate reflection.

An obvious reaction to these comments is, “But you’re probably a bit tipsy at the gigs, that’s why it sounds better and you have a great time.”

Yes, that may be true but in my defence I have heard other bands’ live albums in the past which I thought did do them justice. So maybe it’s all to do with the production on this Wildhearts one?

I don’t know what the answer is but having said all that, I would still recommend this album to any Wildhearts fan. They ARE the greatest band the world has seen for many years and all of their records are worthy of a place in any discerning collection.

[As an afterthought, I would also recommend – unreservedly – Ginger’s live acoustic record, Great White Monkey, because that is a top, top record and for me does manage to capture the feeling of his superb solo ( – with Hot Steve and Random Jon) shows. Unfortunately, it’s only available to buy at these shows or perhaps off e-bay.]