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Rude Awakening
April 2002
Released: 2002, Sanctuary
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: JP

Megadeth has been teetering on the brink of extinction for ages now and seem to be trying to avoid the harsh reality by releasing, a Best of, a DVD, a reissue and now a Double Live CD. Mustaine and the label are prolonging the virtually inevitable. Eventually he is going to have to make a new studio CD and it is going to have to be good. World Needs A Hero staved off death for a few years while the band filled the gap with the above-mentioned releases but they have to face the facts. These distractions from writing and recording a new HEAVY studio CD (that they probably don’t have in them) only serve to prolong the misery. I don’t fully blame Dave. It’s partly the labels fault. It’s obvious Sanctuary hasn’t got the faith in Dave & co. to do another full length instead opting to cash in on former glories by releasing another “safe” Live CD.

Rude Awakening is pretty poorly done. It is slick and over produced. The mix is poor. The sound is flat and the crowd is virtually non-existent. In this day and age of mobile full-on digital recording there is absolutely no excuse why this Live CD sounds the way it does. This CD should have been a triumphant celebration, a massive homecoming to Arizona by Dave and his conquering heroes and it sounds dull and uninspired in terms of performance, production and crowd response. There is virtually no crowd banter, this show could have been anywhere, anytime, nothing makes it special like it was reported to be.

The packaging is pretty bad too…a Live CD and it doesn’t look or feel Live. I like the title and cover and the concept, it would have been good for the next studio platter but for this it is out of place. The live photos are blurry and superimposed on other images making them difficult to see. Where the hell is Vic Rattlehead? Where are the details of the show…Mustaine should go look at Live after Death and see how a Live release should be.

Musically, as I mentioned everything is overproduced and too slick. It lacks power. One thing I did like a lot was the drum sound; most excellent even though Jimmy’s solo was pretty weak. They did fool with the songs a bit, the way extended “She-Wolf” was good but overall the sonic quality was lacking. Al Pitrelli can play as we know but it is becoming more apparent that he is just a hired gun with little in terms of creative input. I can practically hear Dave telling Al, “Just play the songs the way the they sound on the album and we’ll fix it in the studio after.”

My next and final complaint is that I wasn’t thrilled with the song selection. That is purely subjective. The CD is massive 24 songs clocking in at over 2 hours and admittedly they did play an excellent cross selection of their entire career, but those just happen to be a lot of slower songs that aren’t my favorites. Here the quick breakdown.

One from Killing, three from Peace, two from So Far, three from Rust, three from Countdown, three from Youth, one from Hidden, three from Cryptic, none from Risk, one from Capitol, and four from World.

The song list looks virtually identical to Capitol Punishments with 12 of the 14 tracks from that contractual obligation CD making it to the Live. I don’t get it…Megadeth has a deep catalogue and yet they trot out the faithful hits and throw two or three rarer tracks to appease the old school fans. Actually I do get it. They have to (label pressure?) perform the songs that were the singles/videos to get people to buy this. Shame…

Oh wait, I lied… one more complaint, no new material, no rare stuff, no unreleased songs, no CD-Rom component, nothing…Sanctuary’s track record of churning out lame Live CD’s continues unabated with COC, Telsa, Queensryche, Motorhead, Ministry and now Megadeth all suffering the same fate; namely lame Live CD’s that suffer due to label pressure to release sub-standard material in order to make a quick buck. Tragic.

Note: April 3rd, 2002. On March 31st I read that Megadeth had broken up. I assumed it was a early April Fool’s Day joke. No joke. On April 3rd, (today) Megadeth officially announced they have broken up. I did write this review BEFORE I knew of the break up and it may seem a little harsh and disrespectful. I did not intend that and I considered re-writing my review. However, my opinion of this CD, (which is NOT reflective of the band and their career) does stand. It is a weak CD that now more than ever could have been a kick-ass final parting gift to his fans for 20 years. I suppose for all the fans who never got to see Megadeth and now never will, I recommend you go get this CD. Megadeth will be missed.

Next review: » Megadeth - Rude Awakening
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Rude Awakening
April 2002
Released: 2002, Sanctuary Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

I caught Megadeth during the opening show of the World Needs A Hero tour in October of last year. I was not real impressed, having seen them put on better shows in the past. Yet I wasn’t really disappointed either, since I’ve never really thought Megadeth was a great live band anyway. Knowing this to my general attitude toward the Megadeth live experience, why did I buy the CD? I guess old habits die hard.

So what can I say about Megadeth’s first live album? Well, it covers a lot of territory over two CDs. Nine of the songs from Megadeth’s golden era are covered, including three each from PEACE SELLS BUT WHO’S BUYING (4.75/5) and RUST IN PEACE (5/5). RISK is totally ignored, to the delight of many I am sure. Mercifully, “MotoPsycho” is left out, but thumbs up to “1000 Times Goodbye” which sounds a lot better live and without the female voice over.

As for the production and overall feel of the album? To these ears it sounds like Mustaine and company were going for a bootleg vibe, although a very high quality bootleg to be sure. It sounds like the show was recorded at the soundboard, though I’m no expert on bootlegs. The drums and vocals are high in the mix. It pisses me off to no end that the guitars are mixed way too far back during some of the thrashier moments. In fairness to Al Pitrelli, he’s good and he covers Friedman fairly well, but the punch just isn’t there. The fact that you can barely hear the intro to “Holy Wars” is sheer blasphemy. The copy I picked up at Best Buy features an exclusive bonus track, simply titled “Peace Sells Medley”. It mixes “Peace Sells” with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and the Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy in the UK”..

Whether you’ll want to pick up RA for yourself will come down to what kind of Megadeth fan you are. If you lost faith in them during the 90s, this album is not for you. If you have remained a fan despite the change in sound, or you became a fan in the 90s, the pickup is essential. You decide.

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