VARIOUS ARTISTS -- KCRW Rare On-Air Performances Volume Three (Mammoth)

If you live in or around the Los Angeles area, chances are you've probably heard Chris Douridas's morning show on KCRW, Morning Becomes Eclectic. At various times during the week, they feature artists performing live in the station's studios. This is the third CD in a series of these performances. In keeping with the premise of the show's title, past installments have included an eclectic mix of artists, to say the least. Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos, Beck, Tanya Donnelly, Nick Cave, and Sebadoh are just a few of the artists who have contributed tracks to the previous CDs.

Volume 3 includes 14 tracks from artists who have graced the KCRW performance studios over the last year; all recorded live with no overdubs. Some of the artists featured include Patti Smith (with her first commercially available live performance of "Dancing Barefoot"), Fiona Apple, Ben Folds Five, Guided By Voices, and Stereolab (who contribute a new track called "Spinal Column"). Cowboy Junkies turn in an ethereal version of the Bruce Springsteen tune, "State Trooper." Soundtrack maven Angelo Badalamenti teams up with Tim Booth on the touching love song, "Fall in Love With Me."

Other highlights on the CD include Me'Shell Ndegeocello's sultry "Ecclesiastes: Free My Heart," the effect-laden guitar work on Luna's "23 Minutes in Brussels," and Gonzalo Rubalcaba's solo piano rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine." Other tracks don't hold up quite as well. The songs by Remy Zero, and The Wallflowers come across as uninspired and boring. Aside from those, Rare On-Air Volume 3 contains memorable performances by just about everyone involved.

© 1997 Steve Marshall