It’s been 25 years since the release of Live’s third album (fourth, if you count an album under a different name; I don’t), the follow-up to their international uber-hit Throwing Copper – which means it’s been 25 years since most the general audience were excited about a brand new album from Live.
Secret Samadhi landed when Live were at their critical and commercial peak: Throwing Copper, and it’s handful of singles “I Alone”, “Selling The Drama” and “Lightning Crashes”, had been absolutely everywhere for years, the group heralded as the next big thing, the hype giving them the mantle of rock geniuses (sorry, Pearl Jam), and we were ready to hear what Live would do next. It turned out to be something of a stinker.
Or, at least, that’s what I always believed. Secret Samadhi was undoubtedly a disappointment, failing to live up to Live’s earlier album, and opinion of the group collapsing under the weight of unmet expectation. But listening back this week, I’ve found it hard not to think that they were a little hard done by.
I’m not saying the album is actually great or anything. But it is better than I remember it being at the time, those disappointment-coloured glasses no longer affixed. The highlight tracks are still highlights – opener “Rattlesnake” doesn’t sound as uncool as it once did, “Lakini’s Juice” sounds better than ever (and might be my favourite Live track), “Heropsychodreamer” is a decent rock track, and “Turn My Head” … well, it still sounds a bit twee, but whatever.
There is still a ton of filler; “Century” is a nothing song, “Ghost” is a bit bland, “Graze” hits hard but doesn’t offer anything particularly new. And second single “Freaks” is still as weird as ever; it baffles me that anyone thought it was one that would somehow elevate the band (“If the mother goes to sleep with you / Will you run and tell Geraldo”, Kowalczyk sings in the opening. Okay.)
It may not be Live’s best work, but Secret Samadhi is not as bad as you might be remembering, and might even be worth a listen.
(Skip “Freaks”, though.)
CLTM (Chris Listens To Music) is my attempt to listen to a new album every day; you can follow my efforts on Instagram here (and send recommendations), and if you like what I’m doing, support my efforts by shouting me a cuppa at Buy Me A Coffee.