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Classic Album Review: Luna | Live

The dream-pop quintet's stunning concert recording is a transfixing masterwork.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Some bands are great in the studio but suck live. Others create magic onstage they can never capture on tape.

Dream-pop quintet Luna’s studio albums are nothing to sneeze at — sort of a swirly, post-psychedelic fusion of Velvet Underground, Television, Pavement and Galaxie 500, Luna singer-guitarist Dean Wareham’s old outfit. Their concert CD Live, however, is positively stunning. This 14-song set (compiled from two shows in New York and Washington) is nothing short of a transfixing masterwork that makes their studio work pale in comparison. Part of it is the sparser sound and energized, focused performances. Part of it is the way Wareham spins wistful tales of doomed romance and unspools hypnotic, soaring solos with such casual confidence (imagine Lou Reed if his creative juices were still flowing — and he could play lead guitar to save his life). And part of it is that woozy, decadent reading of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot’s classic Bonnie and Clyde (co-starring bassist Britta Phillips). For most bands, one live album is plenty. In Luna’s case, I’m willing to make a big exception.