The Sword – Greetings From…

4 out of 5

Label: Razor & Tie

Produced by: Bryan Richie

When a live album rocks your socks despite not being familiar with the original renditions: Thatsa good live album.  And I don’t care what you tell me – those are rare.

I only own the most recent Sword material, which accounts for about half of the cuts on Greetings From…, a live album which features snippets from High Country.  I’ve gotten good listening mileage out of those discs, and even happily sat through back-to-back comparisons of the studio vs. live stuff.  The results?  Both versions are worthwhile, for the reasons you’d likely expect: In studio, Sword take their time, get a bit deeper with the production.  Live is balls out rawk, fast-paced and hard-edged, though these dudes are certainly aces on their instruments so nary a beat is missed.  The energy that’s so clearly apparent on a recording of a concert further suggests that the actual live experience would be quite a sight, which I’d also argue is a rarity, but I’m a live-show hating hermit, so grains of salt and all.

Between the recent tracks are some older – though equally rocking – cuts, and although the disc’s pace leans into its momentum, the 7+ minute burners are still equally wonderful, balancing the volume and riffage so that it’s not exhausting.  The recording, though of course lacking the aforementioned studio layers, is crisp and clean and forefront: Guitars, bass, drums and vocals are all mixed well and allow for maximum devil’s horns a-wavin’ effect.

The sole star detraction here is for the same thing I’d say about the albums I’ve heard: With the focus mostly on the music and the well-replicated 70s vibe, I’m not sure I can speak to the impact of the lyrics – although the singing is well done and a perfect match to the style.  Along these lines, not much of a thematic “album” emerges as much as a set of equally excellent and rocking tracks.

…That absolutely impress, whether behind the studio dial, or are delivered live to your ear drums, a la Greetings.