most of the time when an artist produces an album that is sub-par, they usually attribute such a result to negative lifestyle changes. addictive afflictions hampered boy george, depeche mode, method man, and the red hot chilli peppers and they naturally apologized for giving their fans 10% of their artistic capabilities. but with live, that argument seems to be flipped on its head. before v just about all of their records were amazing masterpieces. Mental Jewelry was a naked examination of human interactions underpinned by a spiritual mood that rivaled u2's Achtung Baby; Throwing Copper was marked by a severe cultural and social cynicism; while Secret Samadhi, the band's best work in my opinion, exposed a darkness that many other bands didn't know how to convey. The Distance To Here showed a reformed (and slightly simpler) version of their first cd as Live but V...well...i'm not too sure how this fits in. i keep telling myself that maybe ed smoked one too many reefers and thought himself a 25-year old again but no, the band simply seems to be addicted to a false sense of personal and musical clairvoyance. V is like a 45-year old father of two who wears baggy jeans, says words like "yo," and thinks that he still lives the life of youthful exuberance.
one way you could tell that the band lost favor is the fact that a good 80% of their fan base simply didn't know what to think of the cd. i mean, how could they? if people called ed's singing in the past melodramatic, at least it had a sense of direction. but now his words and vocals are as though they are lost in some wild and frantic stupor, buzzing about for almost an hour until they realize that they can't sip jack daniel's like they used to. the album is confusing because it's not deep at all. songs like "deep enough" (which exposes ed's very childish sense of libido) and "overcome" (a song that takes pop sappiness to an extreme) are mixed in with a bag of what seems to be a tired psychedelic and amorous 70's revival; the theme of love runs through a good 5 or 6 tracks on the cd.
i shouldn't be too disparaging. after all, at least they still play their own instruments. but even then gracey, taylor, and dallheimer seem like rookies though they are some of the most experienced musicians on the rock scene. they don't seem as if they even try on V but instead try to form a steady, uninteresting cacophonous wall to cushion ed's hyper ballads and pointlessly melodramatic episodes. the most disappointing performance has to come from dallheimer (the bassist) since he played such a crucial role in other Live works. now he's relegated to simply agreeing with whatever chad taylor (the guitarist) does. he was so superb in songs such as "T.B.D" and "Rattlesnake" that it feels like he's nowhere on V.
i usually don't see cd's as just expensive pieces of plastic but i honestly think that this was an experiment by MCA's execs to test that view because the plastic seems to be too good for the songs put on it. if V was advertised as a coaster then maybe i'd buy the cd.