All the tracks for the Vengeance Bad Live & Crazy album have been re-encoded from the source files and remastered, recompiled and re-ordered with a slightly different list than the original.
All the tracks are actually taken from the audio track of VHS 1/2″ video tape, so it’s surprising the quality is as good as it is. It’s probably a testament to the faceless, nameless drones working the mixing boards when we were playing- after Liz left we had no regular mixing tech and were left to the tender mercies of whoever the blase house guy was. I always used to tip the soundman in advance to get him on our side.
I always wondered at people who yelled at the soundguys and were rude to them. That’s like yelling at the waiter and not expecting spit in your food- the soundman has the power to make or break your gig, so treat him sweet, even if he’s a smug asshole, a burnt out idiot or one of those guys who’s seen it all and just doesn’t give a shit.
We always tried to engage the soundman, asked his opinion and gave compliments freely and I don’t remember having a bad experience with one except for the Savatage gig, where they purposely savataged us by turning off the monitors, the sub-woofers, Mike’s guitar and the backing vocals in the house mix.
Which brings me to the live album, which is mostly made up from the gig 92.02.15 with Injustice at the Off-Limits.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this gig contains an extensive soundcheck, which Todd video-taped, and the guys were really taking good care to get a really stellar mix and tone for us on every instrument.
The other bands were getting a little salty because while we were setting up one of the younger guys from the “headliner” (all the bands were younger than us) was humblebragging and subtly needling us about opening.
I informed him we almost always tried to open for 2 good reasons: for one thing, you are the only band to really get a good soundcheck, although at some gigs they’ll do a soundcheck with the main band, then set up the opener in front of them and just use the same settings, whether they are appropriate or not.
This has mixed results because the movement of mikes puts them in a different position invariably, which can affect phasing. Also, sometimes mikes get completely mixed up or left “off target” and when the soundguy turns it up you get a screaming feedback demon.
Anyway, we had enough rep that although we were first, we were far from bottom dog. We got a nice long soundcheck, we got to set our shit up in a leisurely fashion, then got to go change and rest before we had to play.
The other benefit is you enjoy the biggest audience, that is, if you get on at a reasonable time, like after 10pm.
Every band’s fans will be there waiting for them, and most band’s fans leave after their band plays. We also had the biggest fanbase, so by the time the “headliners” went on at 1am (I hear, I wasn’t there) there were about 5 people left.
It’s a given that the schedule will get pushed back further and further, there will be a mad rush to get set up (unmatched by the leisurely way some bands get their shit offstage, sometimes disappearing to play rockstar instead of striking the stage for the next band).
I remember some of the guys in the other bands complaining and asking if they would get any kind of soundcheck at all, let alone this nearly hour-long one we are doing.
The soundman told them he’d do it on the fly, which was not received well, but what can you do?
Anyway, this gig came out particularly good. It has top-end and a good mix, something many of the other gigs lack.
The only problem is that Todd, our video cameraman, was adventurous that night and at one point (end of Bad Crazy) went up to Chuck on his drums, and at another (end of Reign of Terror) went to the side of the stage to Curt, both times causing massive drop-out of half the sound.
On these songs I had to either us alternate versions from another gig or drop in edits, if they matched sonically enough to work, so I could save most of the best versions.
Also, not coincidentally the second-best gig was also from the Off-Limits, the 92.03.27 off limits gig. The best thing about these 2 is that they have top-end and good saturation, something most of the other gigs lack. Many of them are very muddy, and of course the already mentioned Savatage gig the mix was atrocious.
The upshot is, this is the best you can hope for, most bands don’t even have the dozen or so gigs I had to choose from. I got a good mix of our classic set, plus it so happened we played Beast with 2 Backs at that gig and it came out very well, the only time we ever played it.
Because some of the songs I wanted to include were one-offs that we didn’t play often, they almost all came from inferior gigs. Plus, they aren’t a good representation of our normal live show, which I wanted to recreate for the live album.
In order to still include some of the more interesting ones (including a stab at Meltdown that is, interesting, I added “bonus” songs at the end of the list, along with 2 soundcheck versions from the main, best gig.
All in all an interesting and accurate document of our classic era live show. The band is tight, the 3 part harmonies are in key, Mike and Curts double lead solos are stellar, all the lead work is great, Chuck, I think, barely drops a beat throughout the entire program.
I also created new packaging with the best “live” photography, which is actually from the video-taping of the studio video for Beijing, but the lights look great and the photos are very clear and crisp.
Next up, a “greatest hits” type retrospective of our most beloved and played songs, coming soon.