Punk Legends Down By Law Stay Loud and Proud on ‘Quick Hits: Live in Studio’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

When you hear that Down By Law has been around for 30 years, it takes a moment for that realization to set in. It’s almost unthinkable, yet it’s true. So how does a band like Down By Law celebrate three decades of making music? Well, they record live studio versions of fan favorites like “Boredom” and “No Equalizer” on a compilation called Quick Hits: Live in Studio. Oh, and the band also celebrates by showing the listener that it still rocks loud and proud even after 30 years.

The guitar solo on “At Home in the Wasteland” brings Bad Religion to mind, with another similarity to Bad Religion in the backing vocals on songs like “Late Bloomer”. 

“Nothing Good on the Radio” is a song that captures the attention. Granted the references to Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men are dated, but the sentiment of the song is still true if you listen to terrestrial radio. All you want to hear is The Clash, and all you hear is a bunch of “worthless trash”.

This version of “Boredom” isn’t very different from the previous version. However, the fact that this version was recorded live adds to the urgency of the song, and you feel like you were in the studio and surrounded by sound when you listen to this one. 

“Punk Won” is not wildly different either, with a couple exceptions. First, the sound of this version is a little cleaner than the original version. The other big difference is that the bass in the live studio version rumbles the gut a touch more than in the original.

The album ends with a cover of “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers. It’s interesting to hear this as a punk song. It is particularly interesting when Smalley says, “When I haver, whatever that means, I’m gonna be the man that havers next to you.” As you would expect, the guitars are a lot more raucous than the version by The Proclaimers. On top of that, the band really cranks up the tempo and the volume in the chorus. 

This album accomplishes its mission. Namely, it revives old favorites with a new energy and a renewed sound that is more vibrant. It also revives your desire to put on your well-worn and faded (and perhaps a size too small by now) Down By Law t-shirt from your younger days.

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