Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Megadeth ~ Still Alive ... And Well? (live/hits comp)

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Style: thrash, live, greatest hits
Label: Sanctuary
Year: 2002
Home: n/a

Members: Dave Mustaine ~ vocals/guitars
Al Pitrelli ~ guitars/b. vocals
David Ellefson ~ bass/b. vocals
Jimmy DeGrasso ~ drums



It's not that this is a bad album, but it has limited appeal & being half reissues means it never revs up into being a necessary album for either fans or non-fans, let alone it's entertainment factor is cut short once the reissues start the second half. It's sometimes forgotten today that for a few years thrash giants Megadeth broke up. This album is an immediate post-break-up tribute, one could say, to the once final & now oft forgotten line-up featuring original members Dave Mustaine & David Ellefson plus new faces in guitarist Al Pitrelli, over from Savatage, Alice Cooper, Widowmaker with Dee Snider, Asia & Trans-Siberian Orchestra, & drummer Jimmy DeGrasso from Y&T & White Lion. Pitrelli & DeGrasso had been playing together since their earliest club days & would continue to play together after Megadeth in the jazzy O'2L led by Al's then wife Jane Mangini on keyboards with the rest of that band formed with members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Still Alive ... & Well? creates a tribute via being half live tracks & half songs from this line-up's one album The World Needs A Hero released the year before. For the live part it's a half dozen hits from past albums but just with the new line-up lending their interpretation. It's a cheat at trying to make this a greatest hits package. Pitrelli holds his lines well & perhaps challenging himself as a player more than he had in other bands making his time in Megadeth some of the fastest & most complicated playing of his career, while DeGrasso turns in some great drumming in that special Megadeth approach where the drums do more than just play the beat but actually echo the melody lines. But, here neither player really gets to show off. The World Needs A Hero was being written before Pitrelli's entrance in 2000 while the rest of the repertoire for the tour that followed was also other people's music. There's no music here that allows Pitrelli's unique melodic style to shine through that would be an interesting foil to the trademarkable Megadeth rhythms. The story is told that for the tour Mustaine wanted to get back to the studio versions moving away from the variations that had occurred playing the songs over & over in concert. Pitrelli thus is called upon to copy the original versions, holding back his interpretations & is thus a bit of a place holder in the Megadeth story. This also means that the live versions here might not be as exciting or surprising as live versions with previous guitarist Marty Friedman & Pitrelli comes off looking at less of a guitarist than he is. In turn this live album becomes unessential listening. It's the wrong line-up to be immortalized in a live setting. Further this line-up had already released the superior two CD & DVD Rude Awakening, the first Megadeth concert album. This is a line-up already immortalized in a far better package of a full concert versus a few song snippet taken from what would turn out to be their final two concerts in November 2001. Megadeth is a strong live entity but this line-up was never allowed to breathe & in these six songs this is a record of what is now an anti-climactic last show where nobody knew it was going to be their last show & thus it was just another end of the tour show before the holidays. Further, this would be the last album with bassist/founding member David Ellefson for nearly a decade, though at the time this was released Megadeth was a non-entity so at the time it was the last album for all the members. As for the other half of the album it's made up of six studio tracks all from this line-up's lone album & most fans probably already own that much heralded return to form album. It's an unnecessary reissue of an album that's around a year old. This album reminds me of Alice Cooper's Classicks, like this released to fulfill a label contract, where half the album was old tracks live with a new band, featuring Pitrelli no less, & the new tracks from that band. But, the new tracks were from three albums, while the tour was a comeback in a way that this Megadeth line-up didn't end up being, let alone it's Cooper's three albums versus Megadeth's one album. In the end, like Classicks which cashed in on already overly cashed in final albums before a label departure, this also feels like both a tribute but more so an unnecessary & unglamorous cash-in.

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