on December 6, 2004
As good as her noirish ballads are, I've always preferred the songs on which Neko Case just lets go and belts it out with all she's got, like "Bowling Green," "Misfire," and "Honky Tonk Hiccups" on "The Virginian," "Guided by Wire" on "Furnace Room Lullaby," and "Stinging Velvet" on "Blacklisted." So it's understandable that I love this live album, with its sizzling covers of the Nervous Eaters' "Loretta," Buffy Saint-Marie's "Soulful Shade of Blue," Loretta Lynn's "Rated X," plus the newly penned "If You Knew." All this in addition to the sultry waltz "Hex," among other slower tunes. (For my money, though, the standout track is her cover of the Shangri-Las' "Train from Kansas City," on which she positively channels Petula Clark and takes us back 40 years without missing a beat.)
And it's not just Neko. The Sadies turn in a virtuoso performance as her backing band (check out the snare on "Train" and the guitars on "Loretta"), and Kelly Hogan and Carolyn Mark on harmonies make what would have been great performances anyway simply sublime. I'd really love to hear a studio album from this lineup.
Yes, "The Tigers Have Spoken" is kind of short. Yes, it's covers-heavy. Yes, it's a little muddy. But these are such great performances it simply doesn't matter. This is truly one of those live albums that stands alongside, if not surpasses, the artist's studio work.