A Part from Life

/pale blue; 2003/




more info:

It’s recurrently said by Chokebore fans that the experience is even better in concert, because of the emotion, the tension, the presence, the relaxed attitude and the atmosphere generated by the band. Except for a few exceptions ( ‘Coat’ for example ), the audience silently and devotedly listen to the songs, heads up towards the darkly lit scene, searching for the details that will make the show a little different from the preceding one in their future memories. My mind is full of these unimportant facts which enhance the bliss of the remembering process : Christian falling from his seat, exhausted or clumsy, at the end of the second encore; Jon messing up with the opening of ‘Police’; Troy performing some kind of back somersault; Frank disposing cigarettes on his amp before grasping his bass, Christian replacing a cymbal in the middle of a song, Troy changing a D#m to an unnameable chord, etc…. And so the my major problem with this live album is the fact that it’s a blind listening. But nothing can be done about that so I’ll try to forget those unwanted blinders and work from memory (I am not asking for a DVD here…).

First I will deal with the negative aspects of this live album that was recorded in the French festival ‘La Route du Rock” in 2001. The fact that it is a festival recording is important, it implies that there is a festival set list. Sadly, one won’t find many of the live classics of Chokebore in here, no ‘Alaska’, no ‘Perfect Date’, no ‘Taste for Bitters’, no ‘One Easy Pieces’, no ‘Foreign Devils on the Silk Road’, no ‘Coat’… The tracklisting is essentially made out of the last album ‘It’s a Miracle’ (9 songs out of 15). Of course it’s rather logical regarding the fact that they were in the middle of recording the album. On the other hand, a friend fan of mine suggested that they did that so as to take advantage of the success of ‘It’s a Miracle’. Anyway, I believe they could have chosen extracts from several live performances to build up a record that would please fans and attract newcomers. Second problem : the fact that it is a whole concert implies that the inevitable imperfections in sound or performance remain. For example, someone is not in tune on ‘It could Ruin Your Day’, the bass is saturating on ‘Thin as Clouds’, B Balthazar’s singing is not perfect all the time, the overdriven guitars sometimes come in quite brutally. 

Judge not lest be judged.


I cannot say that this record was a long awaited record because I have the opportunity to see either Chokebore or B Balthazar live every six months or so. In fact, I was rather afraid of buying it blindly like a stupid fan on the very first hour of the day of release and then being called so by my friends who would claim to be in control of their fan-attitude by not buying it. And then I didn’t find the album in my favourite music store. Oh oh oh. It took me 6 days to walk my ass to the Virgin megastore and buy it.

First satisfaction : the prize (15€). Second satisfaction : the packaging is rather nice, a patchwork of photographs, on stage and backstage. Surprisingly, the guy (one of them?) who wrote the credits got messed up with which songs belonged to which album. ‘Narrow’ is uncredited while ‘Geneva’ is attributed to ‘Taste for Bitters’. It is kind of funny and sad. It reminds me of B Balthazar being unable to recall the name of one of his song during an interview. 

‘She Flew Alone’ opens the concert. B Balthazar ‘s voice is fragile and reedy. The Dm chord  still has that same effect on me, moving and exciting. ‘Snow’ noisy intro is somewhat disorganized, for good or bad. We must keep in mind that these are draft versions of the songs on ‘It’s a Miracle’. This is proved by the song ‘Tiny Boosters’ which is in fact ‘I’ll Save You’ with some lyrics from ‘Ciao LA’. There are only 6 reminders of the past, among the best : ‘Days of Nothing’, ‘You are the Sunshine of my Life’ and ‘Valentine’. The first is a full band version, much better than the album version, with Jon adding sloppy guitar lines and overdrive. Down tempo self made pain. No words need to be uttered when talking about the other ones, so just nod your head if asked to. These are good versions. As usual, B Balthazar talks to the audience from time to time, essentially to inform them that “this one is sad and slow”. Ah ah ah.

‘Geneva’ is good, ‘Police’ is good, ‘I love the Waiting’ is good, no doubt about that, but a few previously unreleased material would have made me happier and less critical.


Eventually, the sticker on the album ‘Chokebore is the best live band, better than the Pixies and Nirvana together’ is stupidly pompous, arrogant and vague since these bands split. ‘A Part From Life’ is a good piece in spite of some weaknesses, a ‘thank you fans’ record.


Time is out. I learned to cook yesterday and finally lost my kitchen phobia. Sausages and beans, just like a western star. Whatever.


-Angus ‘Hallal’ Anderson

/oct 1st 2003/