Lightning Crashes

REVIEW: Live – Throwing Copper (1994)

LIVE – Throwing Copper (1994 Radioactive Records)

20 year ago.  It seems like such a long time, but it’s true: There was an era when the top of the charts were dominated by the likes of Hootie, and Live. Kids today might not know Live, but many of these songs are still radio staples today: “I Alone”, “Lightning Crashes”, “All Over Me” among others.  8 million copies sold, and although you can find it used quite easily today, a lot of people hung onto their copies of Throwing Copper.  I am one.

I began working at the record store in 1994, and I used to tell my customers, “You’ll probably know all these songs.” I said that for a few albums back then, such as Purple by Stone Temple Pilots and Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. Not only did Throwing Copper have five hit singles, but virtually every album track was getting played somewhere. That’s how strong this record is.

The legacy of this album is its influence. I will maintain that without Throwing Copper, there would be no Matchbox 20, and certainly no Daughtry. Unfortunately all those bands learned from Live was bombast, and they turned it up to 11. They learned nothing about song craft, nothing about expression, nothing about restraint.

Throwing Copper has bombast in spades. It’s there in Ed’s vocals, but it’s also there in the rhythm guitar parts and the noisy Neil Young-esque solos. It’s there in the rolling bass lines and the thundering drums. But Ed Kowalczyk also knew how to use his voice quietly (“Lightning Crashes”), which amazingly was still as expressive. He names Michael Stipe as a huge influence, and you can hear R.E.M. and even U2 between the grooves.

Personal fave song:  “Shit Towne”.

Production by Jerry Harrison is stunning. The drums are some of the best, most natural sounding drums recorded in the 90’s and the bass is strong without dominating. This CD is in no need of a remastering, it sounds just fine as it is.

It’s kind of a shame that Live never did anything this good again, or with this kind of impact. While I have listened to every Live album since, I never bought any of them. This is the only one I bothered buying, and I liked it so much I bought some of the singles when I could find them. The domestic single for “White, Discussion” has a great acoustic version of “I Alone”.

If you need some 90’s nostalgia, and don’t have this album, you absolutely need it. If you’re too young to remember the 90’s but love bands like Theory of a NickelCreed, then you need to find out what real music sounds like. Throw out your Daughtry discs and pick up Throwing Copper.

5/5 stars

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There is also an unlisted track after “White, Discussion” known as “Horse”.

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