York, PA is responsible for a number of things that we might potentially take for granted, like the York Peppermint Patty for example, invented in the late 1930s. York was also where the very first steamboat was built, as well as the first coal locomotive. And for music fans, it might have been Live, that gave us our first awareness of York in the early 90s with the release of their first album Mental Jewelry.
It doesn't seem like it's been long enough to be possible, but when one looks at Awake: The Best Of Live, you very quickly realize that the little band from York, PA has done a nice job of carving out a respectable career, as the track listing reflects. Not only that, but they've done it all while maintaining the same roster of members from their first album, to their latest release.
"Operation Spirit", which opens the disc, was my very first introduction to the band, heard via alternative radio, which at the time, was the only place that you could hear the band. Mental Jewelry was a special album, but not special enough for massive airplay on every station across the United States. I've always thought it is a shame that "Spirit", and the follow-up track "Pain Lies On The Riverside", don't get much airplay on today's rock radio stations.
The band broke wide open with the release of their second album Throwing Copper in 1994, and for me, there were so many singles off of that album, I reached my saturation point with Live's music. Things were starting to get quirky with the band as lead singer Edward Kowalczyk explored new avenues in his life, and would become known simply as Ed Kowalczyk.
The band threw a bit of a curveball as well with Secret Samahdi, the followup release to Throwing Copper. While much of Throwing Copper had been immediate and friendly to the ears, Secret Samahdi had a more abrasive tone to it, and it took me a few listens to really believe that this was the same Live that I had heard on the past 2 previous records. If one wanted to accuse Live of being a formula band, Secret Samahdi quickly proved that theory wrong.
The Distance To Here was a return to more familiar territory. As Kowalczyk explains in the liner notes: "The Distance To Here is my favorite Live record. Ok, I'm a little biased, but lyrically and melodically it was just damn good from start to finish. It was a total reaction to the darkness that was so strange and cool about Secret Samadhi." My thoughts exactly! The Distance To Here, in my book, is probably the closest the band will ever come to making a perfect Live record in my book, and Ed nails it when he says that the record is perfect from start to finish, because it is.