Old Man Gloom – Mickey Rookey Live at London

3 out of 5

Label: Ektro

Produced by: Antti Uusimaki (mixed by, recorded by)

I’ve stated often enough that I don’t really understand most live albums. Unless they present the songs in a new way, or perhaps deliver a ‘best of’ that might top or equal studio versions of the tracks, live albums mostly just take up space in my collection, stressing that latter term – I am generally just including them as a ‘gotta have ’em all’ mentality for any given artist.

Given the fairly studio-accurate versions of these OMG tracks, taken from albums stretching until The Ape of God, which was released at the time, there are some pluses here that I’ll get to, but it otherwise falls into that “I don’t get it” pile. However, in looking for other opinions on the release, I stumbled across a review that did suggest something I wasn’t considering: nostalgia. If you were there for a show on this tour, or this show exactly, or even just another memorable live set and this is one of your favorite bands, a recording like this can bring you back to that experience. That’s a very external thing, not part of the recording itself, but is still an aspect of these things I was overlooking.

That aside, Mickey Rookey still mostly qualifies as inessential, with a typical live “flat” sound to the recording, and, as mentioned nothing especially notable about the renditions of these particular songs. Mixer Antti Uusimaki and master of masterers James Plotkin do their best, I assume, on the former, but while the album is undeniably clear, with all aspects of the music coming through, it’s nonetheless a tinny sound, and maybe clipping slightly (unless that was purposeful to get some range on the sound) when the group goes all out, as on The Lash. However, I mentioned some positives, and there is, for me, an interesting one: the sequencing is phenomenal. Favoring shorter, thrashier works, the band doesn’t spare us their sludgey drone, it’s just strategically spaced out as bookends and midway through the show, prioritizing momentum. This does “fix” an issue I often have with OMG’s discs, in that the thematic whatever they’re doing tends to make the albums not flow, coming across as compilations. Odd, then, that an actual compilation flows more seamlessly. Alas, as the individual songs do not best their studio counterparts, it’s still not the ideal way to experience the group – perhaps an actual live show is, at that – but it’s nonetheless a fun affect of things. It’s also definitely worth mentioning that the group doesn’t avoid being adventurous with samples and effects live, so doubling down on nostalgia-being-the-key here – a live set is probably the full package. I also preferred this somewhat more dialed in version of Zozobra, down from 27 minutes to a clutter-free 12.

So: worth it? As per what I’ve outlined above, yer mileage is always going to vary. For a casual collector, no – despite the sequencing being great, the original versions are still (almost always) superior, but it’s also not a bad listen if you stumble across it and have the funds to spare.