Once upon a time live albums were de rigueur, part of the cycle, a way to cash in on fans and those who want to hear all the greatest hits in one place at one time.
But then the internet destroyed album sales and you were able to see endless performances on YouTube and live albums disappeared.
But Eric Church did not get the memo. He decided to make one anyway (Caught In The Act: Live).
And it’s astoundingly good.
BEFORE SHE DOES
“And I believe that Jesus is comin’ back
Before she does”
I didn’t get this the first time through. I heard Eric plow through a lot of right wing stuff that turns northerners off, complaining about gas prices and professing faith in the Bible and then…
And it’s HILARIOUS!
They always say it’s guys who leave, but that ain’t so, and when left behind guys have such a hard time getting over it. They want them to come back, they believe they’re gonna come back, but they don’t.
So what you’ve got here is a guy who’s pissed who’s telling his story and not only is it endearing, it’s the anthem for all those sitting on a barstool contemplating their choices and the way the world works.
It rocks hard, you get it immediately.
That’s right, Eric Church reaches out and grabs you right from the get-go, and that’s what we need in this modern world of endless incoming, delivery and deliverance.
HOW ‘BOUT YOU
“I like my country rockin’
How ’bout you”
And there you have it, the essence of this album. It rocks so hard it’ll twist your preconceived notion of country music.
This is the best live rock album of this decade (not that there are that many, see above), but if you ever held a beer in your hand as you thrust your other arm in the air in time to the music, if you love Skynyrd, if you think the music should be so loud it crowds out all other noise, THIS IS THE ALBUM FOR YOU!
Really, you’ll be stunned, the twinkling leads, the heavy pounding, this is everything you remember and still love, but brand new with truthful, insightful lyrics. Who could ask for more? Which is why you’ll get hooked and won’t be able to stop playing this LP.
DRINK IN MY HAND
Cliched, obvious, but it swings!
Yes, another drinking anthem in support of the working man, but it’s not condescending, it works.
I’M GETTIN’ STONED
So heavy, you’d think it was a Metallica track. Really, throw out your preconceived notions of country music. The bass pounds, it excludes all other thoughts from your brain…isn’t that what you want from hard rock?
I defy anyone ever into southern rock to not become immediately hooked by this track.
COUNTRY MUSIC JESUS
It swings, it’s a religious experience, it’ll make you a believer.
“We need a second comin’ worse than bad
Some long-haired hippie prophet
Preachin’ from the book of Johnny Cash
A sheep among the wolves there standin’ tall
We need a country music Jesus
To come and save us all”
The guitars stutter, the track locks on, but it’s the message that’s so clear.
Forget the religious reference, the truth is music used to be made by hippies, who put the tunes and lifestyle before money, and as a result we all clamored ’round.
Could happen again.
But if it does, it’ll come out of Nashville, out of country. Because pop is bankrupt.
Eric Church co-wrote these songs, they’re from his heart, they resonate, he might not be Jesus, but he’s looking, and I know you are too.
This track deserves a blog unto itself.
“You were too bad for a little square town
With your hip-hop hat and your pants on the ground”
We all know these people, playacting, trying to be someone they’re not, rebelling against nothing so much as themselves, believing if they emulate those on television their lives will work when the truth is they’re their own worst enemies, they can’t get out of their own way, if only they could own who they are they might have a chance.
Get comfortable in your own skin, it’s the only way out.
SMOKE A LITTLE SMOKE
The label said no, Eric said yes.
That’s right, country music fans smoke dope and he who speaks truth wins. The single might not have gone number one, but it had an impact. And, once again, by speaking truth, Eric wins.
The big hit single wherein Eric breaks down in the middle and not only sings “Born To Run,” but tells the story of going to his first concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte.
And there you have it. We’re rooted to the story, it rings true because of this one reference to an actual place. This is post-rock, when all the buildings have sponsors and everybody’s sold out and we’ve got no one to believe in anymore.
And you wonder why people believe in Eric Church…
Because he’s doing it his way and he’s speaking truth.
But the revelation here is how hard this album rocks, how you get it the very first time through, how it’s totally in the pocket.
P.S. Some might think the audience is mixed up too high, but when they sing along it adds energy, makes you feel like you’re there, and that’s a good thing…and it makes you want to go see Eric Church live. This album may not be the best financial exercise, but it’s marketing genius, it makes fans instantly!
Spotify link: spoti.fi/1BTBY9R