For some, it’s almost too easy to be cynical about Linkin Park. They’ve got a crap name, they have a reputation for being the boy band of heavy metal and related to this, there’s a sneaking suspicion that vinyl scratcher-cum-producer, Joseph Hahn, is calling the shots, Svengali-style, behind it all.
As if to give their detractors even more ammunition, Live In Texas is their fourth album release in three years. Rather than being a sign of prolific songwriting, it could more easily be construed as a case of milking the cow dry given that they’ve already released Reanimation, a set of hip-hop and techno-based reinterpretations of songs from their über-selling début, Hybrid Theory. Thus, this live album means that “proper” studio albums only account for 50% of Linkin Park’s recorded output. Usually a band has to have had one of its members die or to have split up 20 years ago for that to be case…
However, all of this analysis misses a number of glaring points. Like the fact that whoever writes Linkin Park’s songs knows how to write damn fine ones: genre-skipping nuggets of metal, rap and pop that crunch hard but have soft centres. Like the fact that Chester Bennington is an exceptionally strong vocalist. Like the fact that it’s hard to claim exploitation of the people when every album goes platinum multiple times over.
So is Live In Texas worth buying? Not for the CD. Maybe it’s the size of the Dallas and Houston enormodromes where these tracks were recorded that accounts for the complete lack of atmosphere and live feel. Maybe it’s been overdubbed to within in an inch of its life. Whatever, save for some added strain to Bennington’s voice, and the barest semblance of crowd noise in between tracks, there’s little here to suggest the album is not a studio greatest hits package in disguise. As we know, that’s a little hasty after two albums.
However, someone somewhere has been pretty cunning by including a DVD to accompany the CD. This is immeasurably more interesting because although the sound is still very clean (hey, they might just be polished musicians – it’s a possibility), we at least have footage to help where the CD failed to spark the imagination.
Okay, so the live footage is not exactly groundbreaking, but if you’re a Linkin Park fan, who cares? You get to see Mr Hahn scratching his records at the back of the stage, Bennington and rapper Mike Shinoda expertly bouncing vocals off each other across the stage, while the rest of the band innocuously do what they’re paid for and don’t put a foot wrong in the process. And if by any chance you’ve forgotten just how good Hybrid Theory was, or doubted whether follow-up Meteora also contained some stonking songs, this will roundly rouse your memory and suffocate silly notions.
For those who care about such things (and I know we’re an increasingly endangered species in these download-frenzied days), the packaging and booklet are also top-notch. No-one could ever accuse Linkin Park of not conducting their marketing professionally. They deserve a lot more respect than that, mind.