Alive & Wired
With Alive & Wired, the Old 97’s finally deliver a record that not only flaunts their prowess as a live act, but also serves as a superb chronicle of the band’s career. Needless to say, it’s difficult to truly capture the energy of a live performance on tape—but the double-disc, recorded over two nights at Gruene Hall in Texas, does the Old 97’s justice, while leaving any bum notes and vocal miscues untouched. The album takes the band’s musical forays into country, punk and pop and bathes them in sweat and distortion—and with the studio gloss stripped, even the band’s most sugary-sweet pop songs like “Rollerskate Skinny” and “Lonely Holiday” nestle comfortably alongside galloping scorchers “Melt Show” and “Doreen.” Alive & Wired proves that not only have the Old 97’s written some of the finest rock songs in the last decade, but they can take it to the stage and absolutely pummel an audience for two hours. Not bad for a band that has nothing to prove.