Friday, August 12, 2016

Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band: the live album is here!

I'm usually pretty "meh" about live albums. I get why they exist: to capture what a band really sounds like in concert and perhaps even make you wish you'd been there in person. But for whatever reason, live albums rarely do it for me. Nine times out of ten, I'd rather listen to studio recordings. So it's surprising and exciting to finally encounter a live album that I'm totally into! Live At Grumpy's captures Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band in their proverbial element - a dive bar in downtown Minneapolis. This happens to be one of my favorite bands, which really raised the stakes for potential disappointment (after 20 years, I still wish I could have back the $12 I spent on the Parasites' Nyquil-Fueled Rock Armada). But I had a hunch that this live album would be different, and I was right!

As great as their records are, anyone who's seen Nato and the boys live will tell you that this is a band you have to witness in person. And while no recording can fully duplicate the experience of actually being there, a great deal of what makes Nato Coles an enthralling and engaging performer comes through on these live tracks. He has a way of working a crowd that fully conveys his passion for entertaining - and that brilliant off-the-cuff spoken portion of "An Honorable Man" alone justifies the purchase price of this album. It's clear that if you plunk down some hard-earned cash to see Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band play live, you're gonna get treated to a show! The sound quality here is actually pretty decent, and the song selection avoids excessive overlap with the band's existing LP Promises To Deliver. In addition to album favorites "You Can Count On Me Tonight" and "Econoline", Live At Grumpy's features new material ("Standing on the Corner Alone"), songs from Nato's prior bands ("An Honorable Man", "Coffee Cup"), one of the cuts from the King Friday split ("Sweet Baby"), and a rousing cover of largely unknown Minneapolis garage punkers Cortez The Killer ("I'm A Shark").

A live album from Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band is such a brilliant idea that it's almost hard to believe it took this long to happen. And it sure doesn't disappoint! In the words of Malibu Lou, this album captures a "truly spiritual and uplifting rock n roll performance". There's no denying it: this is a band with some serious live chops! If you've had the pleasure of seeing the band perform, Live At Grumpy's will bring back fond memories. And if you've yet to experience Nato and the gang in concert, this album will make you want to go see them as soon as possible! The rendition of  "An Honorable Man" documented here could prove to be Nato's own "I Want You To Want Me" or "Maybe I'm Amazed" - a live take that is ultimately recognized as the definitive version of the song. And if you're like me, you'll soon be searching for any information you can find on Cortez The Killer! Out now on Rum Bar Records, Live At Grumpy's is a must-have for any fan of Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band. And don't miss the band on tour this month! 


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