This is the seventh in a series of Rock & Roll features I'm writing for this site. I'm a rock and roller, so this column is a way for me to feature a different album that I like, from different genres every month.
If someone glanced through my music collection, they could probably pull out any album and I could tell them when I first heard it, my first impressions, and what memories I associate with that album to this day. Music is like that for me, very linked to specific emotions, specific feelings, and specific events. Standout albums that had a major impact on me are often permanently embedded in those memories as well.
In the mid 90s, I was just beginning to become interested in rock and roll, getting into the currently alternative music scene that had exploded and so I sought out new music in as many places as I could. The band Live was a group that I became interested in through my older sister actually. Upon hearing their album Throwing Copper, I became engrossed and they remain one of the bands I continue to watch to this day. This album of theirs has had such an impact on me that I still listen to it pretty often and it still recalls the memories of those days when I first heard it.
Throwing Copper was Live's second release and they were still a relatively young group of guys at the time, but deep songwriting combined with a hard edged sound combined for a bit of alternative magic that just hit at the perfect time to explode onto the mainstream rock charts of the mid to late 90s. Most people who grew up during that era can instantly recognize some of the singles that were released, with “I Alone”, “All Over You” both being quite popular and having catchy feels and choruses, and of course there is “Lightning Crashes” a building funeral inspired rock epic that is still the biggest single the band ever released. Still, along with these tracks, I feel that this album not only contains some great music, but also is one of the best complete albums of the alternative era, and maybe of all time.
The album opens appropriately with a slow starting song, “The Dam at Otter Creek”, that has a great subtly dark and hanging riff that draws you into the album and sets the mood for what is to come. It's a dark smoky sound, but isn't depressing or directly angry, but more worldly angry and slightly mystic and eastern flavored. The song builds repeatedly, pausing slightly to increase the feel before pushing into a hard rock explosion with a lot of emotion. Once kicking in, the riff remains but is morphed into a hard rock stomp that keeps building till it eventually fizzling out at the song's conclusion. This is a great track in its own right, but its feel absolutely sets the tone for the entire album and makes everything that follows just that much more gritty, emotional, and hazy.
To get a feel for the tone I'm talking about, take a look at the album art if you get the chance. It's almost like you're viewing all the music through the coppery, olive green that has tinted the album artwork photos a rusty, greenish sepia. You could also say that the bright red serves as a symbol for blood and the human emotion and the black is the darkness of the anger and sadness, but that might be stretching it a bit. Either way it's great album art that quite accurately reflects the feel that can be felt even on the first track.