Way back in college, some friends and I were watching MTV (a show called "Amp," back when they used to play videos) one night when a strange video came on featuring a man in a dog costume walking around the city with a boombox playing a song that immediately piqued our attention. This video, of course, was "Da Funk" by Daft Punk (directed by Spike Jonze), and with it Homework became an oft-spun CD that year. With each subsequent release, the group rounded off a lot of the more gritty edges that they once had, and by the time Human After All rolled around, I had pretty much lost whatever early affection that I'd had for the group.
After debuting a live set that pretty much blew minds in April of 2006 at Coachella, the group then took that show on the road, and Alive 2007 is a sonic document of what one might get from such a performance (minus the lights, thousands of sweaty bodies, and video-screen covered pyramid, of course). For those that couldn't make it out to see them in person (unfortunately, I was one of those people), this twelve track, seventy-minute release is going to have to serve as what might have been, and as far as live albums go it does a pretty damn good job.
First off, the group doesn't really play things straight. The set doesn't just start with one song and cycle through a greatest hits collection. Instead, the duo mix and match bits from the high points of all their albums, creating epic rave-style builds and blowouts that push and pull at the listener in ways that re-imagine their own work. "Television Rules The Nation / Crescendolls" mixes in samples from "Around The World" while throwing down a super-gritty bass and a head-thumping kick drum as one track morphs seamlessly into the next. "Robot Rock / Oh Yeah" opens things up in the same way, stretching out the title sample until it locks into place and the gut-shaking beat drops.
Another great thing about the release is that it's certainly not as slick as some of their more recent studio work. Melodies get massively crunched by filters and beats pound hard and often relentlessly. My favorite track on the release is the thunderous "Prime Time Of Your Life / Brainwasher / Rollin' And Scratchin' / Alive," which bangs away for over ten minutes while squelched acid and and other noisy samples shear through.
Like Underworld's Everything, Everything Alive 2007 isn't as completely clean and crisp as a soundboard recording, and some slight distortion and crowd noise helps give a bit more intimate impression. With a swoop of their hands, the group has even taken songs that I wasn't a huge fan of to begin with and given them new and exciting life, and tracks like the cranked-up "Face To Face / Short Circuit" a perfect example. One of the most fun live albums I've heard in a long while, this is worth checking out even if Daft Punk's most recent offerings haven't done it for you.