Pylon – Live

At the time this set was recorded in December 1983 (at Athens’ fondly remembered Mad Hatter) it was billed as Pylon’s farewell show. The quartet ultimately reconvened numerous times (including in 1990 with an album of decent new material on Chain) but Live certainly documents the end of an era. Having returned home from the extensive touring that followed their second album, Chomp, the essential components of Pylon’s brief but formidable catalog were firmly in place. And let’s face it – that task was essentially complete with the two pre-LP singles that were Chomp’s high points.

From that perspective Live still serves as a valedictory and does a fine job of it, despite a few warts. The mix takes some getting used to – Vanessa’s rants and cackles are clear, but set a bit too far in the background. Randy Bewley’s guitar leans heavily on the cavernous effect that distinguished Chomp from its predecessor. Curtis Crowe’s drumming comes across as the lead instrument – which works as no problem, to paraphrase the opening track. It’s a great reminder of the extent to which Crowe’s backbeat propelled this great band.

I can’t decide whether the soundman made adjustments or if Pylon simply took its game to another level to compensate, but the momentum begins to build about a third of the way through the set with “K” (the best song about Scrabble ever written) and the back half is everything you could hope for.

There are no quibbles with the 20-track selection (OK, I’d love to have heard the brilliant B-side “Dub”), which ends with the unreleased “Party Zone” and a “let’s have some fun to close this out” “Batman Theme.” It’s hard to argue with the Gyrate Plus reissue of Pylon’s debut LP as the ideal entry point for the most beat-driven of Athens’ early wave of miracle workers, but Live’s track listing is more comprehensive and is an impressive reminder of Pylon’s live power.