Under Review: Asylum Street Spankers – God’s Favorite Band

As I described in my concert review, the Asylum Street Spankers’ live shows aren’t quite what they used to be.  It’s also been a while since they released a proper studio album.  With the exception of their acclaimed children’s album, Mommy Says No!, the Spankers haven’t put out very much new material since 2004 (and even that year’s album, Mercurial, was a live-in-studio best-of).  Their new album, God’s Favorite Band, echoes the loosely religious theme of their new Salvation And Sin tour, presenting a set of live recordings of Spanker-esque gospel music.  Seeing as how this is a live album, the recording suffers from the same problems the live shows do: a rather thin mix in which some of the Spankers’ prized talented players aren’t even audible.  In many cases, the very talent of the performers saves the disc from these faults, but they are still hard to overlook when compared to the group’s much more impressive earlier albums.  Joined by wayward Spankers Guy Forsyth and Stan Smith (as well as some more recent departures), the songs sound a little forced, like a capable band just going through the motions.  Still, Wammo’s history in slam poetry gives great edge to “Right And Wrong,” while Forsyth’s rendition of “Shadrach, Meshach, And Abenego” is one of his finest interpretations of an old classic.  Perhaps the Spankers are just in a bit of a rut, having taken about a year off the road and recruiting some new but forgettable faces into their lineup.  If that’s the case, then God’s Favorite Band is a permissible misfire, only reminding us of how great this band was (and still can be) by showing that they’ve still got it after all these years.  What made the Spankers’ studio albums so enjoyable is that they offered something that their once all-acoustic shows couldn’t: sonic experimentation, overdubbing, retakes.  Sure, this rather bland album gives a good impression of their current live performances, but it, like the live performances themselves, pales in comparison to what the Spankers have shown they can do.

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~ by E. on November 6, 2009.

3 Responses to “Under Review: Asylum Street Spankers – God’s Favorite Band”

  1. I love the Spankers and releases like this one are disappointing. Great, dead-on review.

  2. No idea what you mean about the mix – I can hear every instrument. Overall, it sounds like you want the band to be what it used to be instead of moving forward and exploring new styles and approaches.

    • Thanks for your comment. I guess it’s not untrue that I’d rather hear the old Spankers, but I was also very excited to hear an album of new material. I just feel that the live shows have taken a turn since they’ve added the microphones, and while they have done great live albums since (What? And Give Up Show Biz? is incredible), this album just doesn’t sound as dynamic.

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