First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2005, Volume 12, #6
Written by John Metzger
Faced with the prospect of losing its recording contract, Gomez hit the road with a vengeance in support of its recent studio effort Split the Difference. After settling into San Francisco’s fabled Fillmore for a three-night engagement in January, the group emerged with Out West, a two-disc, 100-minute overview of the performances. There’s little doubt that the set is meant to illuminate the almost mythical status of the ensemble’s concert appearances while providing a summarization of its career thus far, but in truth, it is only partially successful in its pursuits.
While Gomez’s studio endeavors are full of subtlety and diversity, these stylistic trademarks largely are missing from the material on Out West. Instead, the band cranks up both the volume and the energy in an attempt to counter the loss of its dimensionality, and although this likely functioned quite satisfactorily in person, its exuberant delivery doesn’t translate the same sense of urgency when the music is separated from the event itself. As a result, the bulk of the selections on the album, while adequately rendered, are vastly inferior to their studio incarnations. That’s not to say that Out West doesn’t have its moments — Here Comes the Breeze generates a head of steam from its central jam as it rides its percolating rhythms through a whirling, twirling gale-force torrent; propelled by its writing bass line, Ping One Down is whipped into a frenzy; Blue Moon Rising effectively merges its Doors-ian intro with its INXS-infused latter half; and a cover of Tom Waits’ Going Out West is transformed into an earth-rumbling march that strikes a Midnight Oil-meets-Oasis groove as guitars melt in the radiance of its sun-baked hue. In the end, however, there isn’t enough contained on Out West to generate much excitement from anyone except Gomez’s most enthusiastic fans.
Out West is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box