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And All That Could Have Been

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★★★★½
(71 Reviews)

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The biggest difference between a kick-ass studio album and a kick-ass live album? Intensity. Live: And All That Could Have Been, recorded on Nine Inch Nails’ 2000 ”Fragility 2.0” U.S. tour, provides that trait in abundance. It helps that Trent Reznor has a band, instead of just a battery of keyboards, to help him work through 16 tracks of the raging yet surprisingly listenable musical vitriol that made him a star. The live musicians, who allow him some freedom to play with tempo, help kick ”Closer” up a notch and lend some atmospheric weight to a slow version of ”The Frail.” The band rips into older material with gusto; Reznor sounds just as pissed off performing ”Head Like a Hole” as he did in 1989. The CD closes with ”Hurt,” which might seem like an odd choice, but somehow, after everything that’s come before, it’s like the denouement of a tragedy. While a CD can only capture a piece of NIN’s onstage energy, their first live album is an intense, sometimes overwhelming recording, further vindication of NIN’s continuing popularity and influence. –Genevieve Williams

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  • So OK, granted Trent and the band prove that they can perform with the best of them. They put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into each and every song, but, did someone forget to do a decent job at mixing the CD? I love NIN and always have, but the chopped off beginning and endings drive me nuts. It’s like they downloaded these songs using a file sharing proggy. (All you former Napster users know exactly what I mean…) Whatever happened to fade in, fade out? That aside, if you are a true NIN fan, this CD is a must have. They are definitely one of the best live bands out there. Their music has heart, soul and that extra something that gets the blood pumping.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • 4 1/2 stars

    When it comes to live albums, you never know. I’m often let down. Live versions of songs usually sound thin in comparison to the studio recordings and are usually just something that the hard-core fans will want. Fortunately, this is not the case with Nine Inch Nails live album “And All that Could Have Been.”

    The main difference between a live NIN album and a studio recording is the presence of a backup band. On “And All that Could Have Been,” Trent Reznor is joined with Robin Finck (guitar, keyboard), Danny Lohner (bass, guitar, keyboard), Jerome Dillon (drums) and Charlie Clouser (keyboards). These songs were recorded from various shows during the 2000 “Fragility” tour.

    I actually prefer the live versions of the “Pretty Hate Machine” era songs to the originals. Although “Pretty Hate Machine” is a classic, a remastered version would be welcome. With a backup band and added guitar, “Terrible Lie,” “Sin,” and “Head like a Hole” sound stronger here then they do on the original release. While the live renditions of the other tracks (from “The Downward Spiral,” “Broken,” “The Fragile” and misc.) generally do not surpass the studio versions, they sound exciting none-the-less and should please most fans by giving them a different take on the songs. The rendition of “Hurt” sounds especially interesting. One might think that such a personal, intimate song would not translate well in the arena, but it never looses its intensity. Indeed, “Hurt” sounds just as powerful here as it does on “The Downward Spiral,” only its power is magnified by the presence and empathy of a subdued yet energized audience.

    The tracklist serves, more-or-less, as a NIN greatest hits. While one could argue for the inclusion of some songs, and the exclusion of others, it’s essentially a good overview and sampling of NIN catalogue up to that point. The order of the songs is arranged in such a way that the album never looses momentum or is anti-climatic. While the songs were taken from different shows, the album sounds coherent and never hackneyed. Trent Reznor notes in the accompanying live DVD that “And All that Could Have Been.” comes as close as you can to emulate the live NIN experience. NIN is definitely an exciting band to see live and this CD (and the DVD) do a great job of capturing the live experience.

    “And All that Could Have Been.” was originally released as a single album and also as a double album with a second disc titled “Still.” This second disc contains stripped down renditions of various NIN songs. While this double CD edition is now out-of-print (although it can be bought used at Amazon) the “Still” CD is still available via NIN.com. For NIN fans it’s defiantly worth checking out.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • “And All That Could Have Been” is a live album from NIN’s 2000 Fragility Tour. I’m not usually big on live albums, but this one is awesome. The sound is absolutely masterful, as if you’re right up on stage in front of Trent and his touring band.

    As for the songs, there’s a nice mix. Of course, you have the obligatory favorites like “Closer”, “Head Like a Hole”, and “Hurt”, all of which sound at least as good as the originals.

    “March of the Pigs” is as intense as ever, and “Piggy” is as omnious and creepy as ever. Then, there’s a selection of songs from “The Fragile” of course, including the epic, powerful “The Wretched”, the heart wrenching ballad “The Great Below”, the slow building “The Day the World Went Away”, and a killer extended version of the instrumental “The Mark Has Been Made”.

    My favorites are “Terrible Lie”, “Sin”, and “Suck”, three of Trent’s earlier songs. On their respective albums, they were good songs marred slightly by dated production. However, in this live setting, they really come to life, sounding much more powerful and intense than the studio versions.

    Let me also recommend, try to get ahold of the companion EP to this titled “Still” (as opposed to “Live”). It features some new songs as well as stripped down versions of some NIN classics.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Ever since Trent Reznor and his band made a mud-drenched splash as Woodstock 1994, almost all music fans have known that Nine Inch Nails put on a fantastic live show. NIN’s first live disc (which was recorded on the “Fragility: 2.0 Tour”) proves that their live songs make their original, studio versions sound tame and controlled. “And All That Could Have Been” is about as intense and full of vitriol as industrial metal gets. And, from the opening wallop of “Terrible Lies” to the dark, introspective “Hurt,” which closes out the album, every song is a hit.

    The crowd is only rarely audible, and they know when to shut up (like during the ballads), so the audience noise never gets in the way of the music.

    Tracks like “Terrible Lies,” “Head Like A Whole” (both singles from NIN’s 1989 debut, “Pretty Hate Machine”) and “Starfers, Inc.” pack a powerful, cathartic, adrenalized punch. Plus, these songs sound even louder and crisper, here, than in the studio. Elsewhere, electronic frenzied, techno-lite cuts like “Sin” and “March Of The Pigs” are heavy on new-wave keyboards, and “Piggy,” “The Frail” (a piano interlude), and “The Great Below” are very slow and ambient. Songs like “Suck” and “Closer” bring the best of both worlds; these songs have a stomping rhythm section married with synths and other atmospheric instruments. And, lastly, the ballads (“The Day The World Went Away” and “Hurt”) are very touching and beautiful.

    So, this album *IS* all that it could have been, and more. It’s no less than great, and it’s as close to being perfect as live albums get nowadays.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • THE SOUND QUALITY…is incredible. It sounds as good as a studio recording. And the audience is there in the mix, but ever so subtley… the cheering doesn’t overpower the music. And the volume is so wonderful… i usually keep my headphones on level #9… with this CD, i have to keep it down on 6 or 7 as to not deafen myself. I’ve never heard such a good live recording… even other licensed ones put out by the artists themselves.THE VARIATIONS ON THE MUSIC…is wonderful. His inflections, his emotions, are clearly visible. It doesn’t sound like a live version of the studio albums, but rather has an improvised feel – it sounds raw… but perfect.THE ENERGY…is out of this world. The crowd, the music, the vocals… everything is just so powerful. That’s really the only way to describe this.This is so far my favorite CD of 2002… and i don’t see another one surpassing it for a while. Any NIN fan must have this… or it would be an awesome way to discover the band.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now