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cover shot
Hallelujah, Brothers and Sisters!
All You Need Is Live
Cowboy Mouth

At just under an hour in running time, this CD is just about equivalent to half of a typical Cowboy Mouth live show, showing off their songwriting virtuosity and variety, their hard-driving attitude and performance, and the fervour with which audiences receive them.

There is a quality to this album and to Fred's interaction with his audience not unlike a tent-meeting revival, and this should come as no surprise -- because Fred is a kind of evangelist -- an evangelist for life and joy and, above all else, good old-fashioned rompin' stompin' rock and roll. A past review says "...on a bad night they'll tear the roof off. On a good night they'll save your soul."

Throughout this set, as at any CM show, you can hear Fred exhorting the audience to get into it -- to sing along, to jump up and down and yell to "gimme a little rhythm, y'all..."; there are no passive observers allowed at a Cowboy Mouth show -- "I don't give a damn about yesterday, and I ain't too concerned about tomorrow..." -- but while he has those people there he and the rest of CM give them one rockin' show -- and you can hear them respond.

"...you're not allowed to sit and stare, we'll do our best to make you care..." brings a roar and cheers every time.

Some of the band's strongest songs are here -- and some others aren't (which is why i give only four stars -- i think that the selection could have been slightly improved -- where are "Son of an Engineer", "My Little Blue One" and "How Do You Tell Someone"?)

Standout songs/performances:

"Love of My Life" (as always when done live; this one just doesn't work in its studio version, but live it's an excuse for Fred to really rant and rave) is a pure rock'n'roll experience, with its cheerful reflection that she's *not* "the love of my life anymore", as Fred incites the audience to even higher levels.

"Here I Sit in Prison", is lead guitarist J. T. Griffith's cheerfully skewed take on the "Folsom Prison"/"Mama Tried" genre, as the narrator is not only not sorry in the slightest that he gunned down his best friend when he caught him with his wife -- his only regret is that he didn't get her too.

Rhythm guitarist Paul Sanchez's "Louisiana Lowdown and Blue" speeds up a cajun beat to tell the story of escaping from The Past.

Fred's "Bad" is in a swing vein (complete with megaphone-effect backing vocals and JT's lovely tinkling electric piano), as the narrator informs the woman who unceremoniously dumped him after he was so good to her that "I'm gonna be bad, every time I think about you..."

"At the Foot of Canal Street" is an old-fashioned Dixieland gospel (again featuring JTG on piano) inspired by one of New Orleans's famous cemeteries.  (Paul was hanging out with John Boutte, a great black blues singer, and they discovered that both of their fathers were buried in the same cemetery.  And Boutte said ".. rich or poor, black or white, sooner or later we all end up at the foor of canal street ..."  And they wrote it.  Boutte does a great version, too.)

And, of course, we have -- again -- Fred's anthem -- "Jenny Says" -- the story of a doomed relationship with a woman who can't understand what obsesses him.

Put this on.

Turn it All The Way Up.

Then turn it up some more.

Imagine you're packed like a sardine in a hot, dark sweaty club with a couple hundred intimate strangers. Grab a beer. Get ready to rock out harder than you ever have in your living room before.

And then realise that, good as it is, essential as it is, this is merely the best approximation of that awesome thing that is Cowboy Mouth live that you can buy...