Friday Full-Length: Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready, Live & Loud

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And as consolation, Rough & Ready, Live & Loud offers plenty. As one would hope with a catalog of nine studio full-lengths, plus splits and so on, there’s plenty to draw from, and as they mightorange goblin rough and ready live and loud at any given headlining show — as they did last year in New York (review here), sadly without Turner — they build a set that spans front-to-back of their discography, going all the way back to “Saruman’s Wish” from 1997’s Frequencies from Planet Ten (discussed here), while maximizing energy and dynamic in tempo and their ever-boozy rhythmic shove. Orange Goblin have long since established their scope encompassing all things heavy and underground rock, doom and metal, and whether it’s anthems like “Sons of Salem” from their latest LP, 2018’s The Wolf Bites Back (review here), or the ultra-catchy roller “The Fog” from 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned (review here), or the Bandcamp-only bonus cut “Your World Will Hate This” from 2002’s revisit-worthy Coup de Grace, or the has-become-a-personal-mantra “Some You Win, Some You Lose” from 2004’s Thieving From the House of God (discussed here), they readily nail it as one might expect a band picking tracks and assembling them together as a live record might.

That is, one should come into Rough & Ready, Live & Loud expecting a quality product, and though there are some jumps in sound as the band move from Sylak Open Air in France, August 2016, to KOKO in London, December that same year during one of their annual holiday tours, to Fuzz Club in Athens last year, a quality product is exactly what’s delivered. Conspicuously absent are regular live cuts like “Scorpionica” and “Blue Snow,” but “Shine” from 1998’s Time Travelling Blues (discussed here) is an organ-laced highlight, and even a song like “Mythical Knives” from 2014’s Back From the Abyss (review here), which wasn’t a standout in the same way as that record’s title-track, which also appears here, or “The Filthy and the Few” from 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned (review here), proves worthy of the additional airing. Plus, those looking for “Scorpionica,” “Quincy the Pigboy,” “Blue Snow” or even “Red Tide Rising” can easily find them on 2013’s live album, A Eulogy for the Fans (review here), which is still in print so far as I know and, in any case, not hard to come by.

They cap the almost-hour-long set with the particularly Motörheady scorch of “Renegade” from The Wolf Bites Back and “Time Travelling Blues” itself, the latter’s signature introductory guitar figure led into with a simple “let’s get fucked up” before they lock into the song as they have on so many occasions, somewhere between Skynyrd, Sabbath and apocalypse. Orange Goblin are professionals, and they deliver their songs accordingly, but in the times I’ve been fortunate enough to see them, that’s never held them back from expressing either the passion for what they do or the genuine affection for their audience. This is a band that has a relationship with their listenership, and Rough & Ready, Live & Loud acknowledges this with the digital liner notes that includes fan pictures and others (one of my shots of Millard from the aforementioned New York show is there; thanks to them for using it), as well as through Ward‘s various banter encouragements and frenzy-whippings. All of this is part of the experience of seeing Orange Goblin on stage, and if Rough & Ready, Live & Loud helps bring that experience to mind, then it can only be called successful as a live album.

Orange Goblin may not get to bring their particular brand of chaos to Desertfest this weekend — always next year — and that’s a bummer, but if there’s a lesson to be found in Rough & Ready, Live & Loud, it’s that, as always: some you win, some you lose. And if you lose, you might as well make the most of it, which is exactly what they’re doing here. I can only imagine that after 25 years there’s an archive of Orange Goblin live recordings captured from along the way. Anytime they want to throw one of those up on Bandcamp for a couple bucks or whatever, it’s welcome. In the meantime, it’s worth hoping their label, Spinefarm, picks up this one for a physical release, not the least to see and hold a larger version of the cover art, which puts the four-piece as zombies on motorcycles surrounded by iconography from their studio albums. As a fan of the band, I think it’d make an awfully nice 2LP, and I can’t imagine I’d be the only one interested in such a thing, even after getting the download this morning.

I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I think a lot about the subject/object divide and how it relates to criticism, the idea of critique itself as a creative endeavor. I know I’ve talked about it before on some levels but there are times when I get a sense of how “the critic” is perceived by “the artist,” and I always find it fascinating. Sometimes disheartening, sometimes not — some you win, some you lose. I consider myself a creative person. My background, such as it is, is in narrative fiction and creative nonfiction. Telling stories. And I very often approach writing a review the same way. Every album has a story — at least one — and if I can find out what that story is and tell that in a way that also puts the work in whatever context it might appear, I consider the endeavor successful.

The idea of “storytelling” has become a commercial buzzword. Advertising “tells stories” now. And while I take that perversion of purpose — let’s make people feel feelings so they’ll buy more shit — as a sign of increased cultural cache for narrative, plot and characterization generally, there’s no question of the manipulation happening. But still, I try to tell stories when I write. Even if, as above, the story is something as simple as “Orange Goblin kick ass, they’ve been doing so for 25 years and they put out a live album,” that’s still a story, with context. There’s still something to say about it, and I’m doing my best to say it in a creative way.

So am I an artist?

Does it help my case if I say I’m broke? Or that I have emotional baggage? I don’t know. As I say every time I’m asked and have said plenty of times when nobody has asked, I think of The Obelisk as an ongoing creative endeavor. I’ve been doing it for over 11 years. It has become, quite simply, my life’s work to this point. It will end some day. I don’t know when or how. But when it does, will The Obelisk be art, even if that art is a comment on and building off the work of others?

Isn’t all art inherently a critique on what’s come before it?

Where’s that line, between creation and critique? Does it even matter? Is there value in the perception one way or the other? In who gets to be the artist and who doesn’t?

To me, I guess there is, or I wouldn’t spend so much time thinking about it.

I don’t have any answers, or I’d give them.

Thanks for reading. Next week, that pesky High Priestess review that got away from me this week. Also hopefully the drawdown of the days of rona series, which — like the lockdown itself — is starting to drag on a bit. Also streams from Pushy, Buss, Itus and Mercury Boys, and some actual news about stuff that isn’t a spiky ball of a virus. New albums and such are happening, and it’s a relief to have something else to talk about, so I’m going to do that.

New Gimme show today. Listen at or on their app (which is what I use these days). Thanks if you check it out. 5PM Eastern.

Have a great and safe weekend. Thanks again for reading. Forum, radio, merch.

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2 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready, Live & Loud

  1. StevhanTI says:

    He JJ, somewhere in the vicinity of both art and creation lies craft. You, my dude, are, beyond any whiff of doubt, one hell of a craftsman when it comes down to writing about music, musicians and musical art. Please keep on doing it for as long as you got some gas in the tank.

  2. Fred Struckholz says:

    You are an artist and a creative, no two ways about it. You may not screenprint ink on a piece of paper but you push words into our brains, words that you wrote the way you wanted to write them, and many of us come back here to read those words again and again. The answer is yes.

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